Divorce & Veterans Disability Pension

By Melanie Jo Triebel

When couples consider divorce, one of the first questions that usually arises is who will get what. Couples are often confused about such matters as pensions, disability pay, Social Security benefits, and other forms of income which may have accrued during the marriage but will continue to be paid after the divorce is final. When it comes to veterans disability pay, some aspects of what happens during divorce are crystal clear nationwide. Others, however, vary from state to state.

When couples consider divorce, one of the first questions that usually arises is who will get what. Couples are often confused about such matters as pensions, disability pay, Social Security benefits, and other forms of income which may have accrued during the marriage but will continue to be paid after the divorce is final. When it comes to veterans disability pay, some aspects of what happens during divorce are crystal clear nationwide. Others, however, vary from state to state.

Overview

Veterans disability pensions, much like Social Security disability benefits, are designed to compensate individuals who are disabled and thus can no longer work. However, veterans disability pensions are only for those who served in the U.S. military. Veterans who receive disability pension money are entitled to receive additional amounts each month if they are married, but this entitlement ends in the event of divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

The Impact of State Law

While federal law governs a veteran's eligibility for a disability pension, as well as the amount of the pension, state law varies with regard to what happens to that pension in the event of a divorce. While federal law governs the treatment of the disability pay during the division of the marital estate, state law governs how a veteran's disability pay affects orders for spousal support.

Dividing the Pension Between Spouses

A veteran's disability pension is not considered a marital asset which can be divided upon divorce. In fact, Federal law expressly prohibits state courts from dividing veterans disability pension as part of the divorce decree. Thus, a state divorce court cannot decide that a portion of each month's disability pay belongs to the non-veteran divorcing spouse, or otherwise treat the disability pay as a marital asset or community property.

Considering the Pension When Awarding Support

Many people mistakenly believe that because veterans disability pay cannot be directly awarded to a divorcing spouse, it also cannot be considered when awarding or setting the amount of spousal support. A very few states, such as Arizona, Texas and Vermont, prohibit judges from using this income in setting spousal support. Most states, however, allow or require a judge to consider all sources of income when determining spousal support -- including veterans disability pay. This is true even if the disability pay is the only income the veteran has that can be used to comply with the order of spousal support.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Arizona Divorce Law Regarding Disability Pay

References

Related articles

Is it True a Husband Always Has to Pay Alimony When They Get Divorced?

Military Divorce Benefits When Married Less Than 10 Years

Alimony Laws in Tennessee

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can VA Disability Compensation Be Used to Calculate Child Support or Income?

Michigan Laws on Alimony, Pensions & Social Security

Disability in a Military Divorce

Military Divorce and Alimony

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED