Myths about veterans’ benefits and their impact on financial matters in a divorce affect a lot of military people. This also includes spouses, former spouses, and retirees. Some contend that a military pension and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs can be shared through a divorce. Many disabled veterans worry about how much of their income they might lose on property split, alimony, and child support during and after a divorce.
This article will educate veterans and their spouses to know what to anticipate on their veterans’ benefits through a divorce process. Although, legal separation has no effect on a spouse’s eligibility for benefits. This only happens when the divorce has been finalized.
Does divorce affect a veteran’s benefits?
Federal law does not count VA disability benefits as property during divorce proceedings. That means that a divorce attorney or family court judge cannot automatically divide the disability income between the former husband and wife. This may also have implications for veterans and ex-spouses.
Both parties should be aware that state legislation on how to divide VA disability benefits can differ. In this case, you will need the consultation of veterans disability lawyers. The legal counsel will research how state law affects the division of all marital assets and inform their clients. Spouses going through a military divorce question what VA funds and other military benefits are divided. In a divorce, some advantages can be divided, while others cannot.
You must be aware of the different types of benefits that military service members are qualified for. This way you will know which ones you may or may not be eligible for. Divorce, child support, and alimony are all governed by the laws of each state. However, state family law courts must abide by federal regulations that regulate the distribution of veterans’ benefits. Certain protections for veterans’ benefits are provided by federal law.
The only time you should hire a lawyer is if you think they can improve the outcome of a disability claim that the veteran has rejected or that has not been given a favorable rating. Also, under present law, you cannot be charged by a lawyer for any help with the initial application for veteran disability compensation.
The attorney can only bill you for services if you appeal a VA decision regarding your disability claim. Therefore, a trustworthy attorney for VA benefits won’t consider taking your case till you have requested disability benefits. Also, you must have received a response from the VA system that you don’t agree with. Most attorneys refuse to labor for no pay.
Veteran disability garnishments
Veteran disability benefits are necessary to maintain a standard of living, address medical issues, or be compensated for pain and suffering brought on by military service. However, if the veteran in question declares bankruptcy or accumulates significant debt, the IRS cannot deduct VA disability benefits from their account.
The VA permits garnishments from disability benefits. VA disability benefits cannot be withheld by the federal government or a state to pay back taxes. Also, debtors cannot ask for garnishment of the benefits to settle past-due obligations
Nevertheless, there are a few circumstances where the federal or state government may deduct a portion of VA disability benefits.When a veteran fails to make any alimony or child support payments, it is one reason for garnishment. However, the percentage of disability benefits that the VA may legally withhold and transfer to another party ranges from 20 to 50% depending on the case.
When is garnishment rejected?
In certain situations, such as the following, it is not authorized to garnish veteran disability benefits:
- When the veteran would suffer an excessive amount of financial hardship due to the garnishment itself. Examining their invoices, debts, and other financial commitments can frequently be used to discover this.
- If the veteran’s ex-spouse or child hasn’t submitted a request for apportionment as stated above.
- When the veteran’s ex-spouse is acting as though they are married to the person they are living with.
- When the former spouse was found guilty of adultery or other sorts of marital infidelity by a state court.
What happens to my veteran benefits after divorce?
Benefits for veterans differ from those for retired military personnel. The veteran’s eligibility for these benefits is based on their military service. They simply have more to do with the veteran themselves rather than their spouse. They are therefore not divided upon divorce. While a current spouse may be eligible for CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA) health benefits, the benefits terminate when the marriage does.
The purpose of VA disability compensation is to make up for the veteran’s decreased earning potential as a result of the disability. Although the benefits themselves are not marital property and are only intended to assist a disabled veteran, that does not imply they are irrelevant to the divorce.
The veteran’s benefits may be viewed as a source of income. That implies that they may be taken into account for determining alimony or child support.
Apportionment on veteran benefits
The process by which a veteran directs a portion of their disability benefits to a spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent is known as apportionment. If a divorce is involved, the former spouses may apply for apportionment to the VA if they can demonstrate a real financial hardship. According to state laws, there are differences in the requirements, application procedure, and distribution of allotted monies.
The following requirements must be met by family members of veterans who request apportionment:
- The veteran’s family member does not live with him or her.
- The family member can present official proof of their financial necessity.
- The veteran’s failure to support dependent family members financially can be demonstrated by the claimant.
- The veteran lacks a guardian or fiduciary and is legally incapacitated, according to the law. Veteran incapacitation might take the form of prolonged hospitalization.
Spousal veteran benefits after divorce
If the veteran’s military service and the former spouse’s marriage spanned only 15 years, the former spouse may only be eligible for one year of TRICARE coverage.
Ex-spouses who do not adhere to the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 standards are still eligible for the Department of Defense Continued Healthcare Benefit. After losing their right to health care through the VA, they can apply for coverage within 60 days and keep it for up to three years.
Depending on their income, ex-spouses who select this option will pay a monthly payment for healthcare insurance.
These additional advantages are possible for them:
- Military retirement payment
- Military identification
- Survival benefit plan
- Post-exchange and commissary benefits
Divorce can be challenging, and adding veterans’ disability benefits can further complicate matters. In most states, your VA income determines your support obligations. Your benefits cannot be garnished because you didn’t renounce your military pay. However, you may end up using your benefit income to fulfill child support or alimony responsibilities.