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There is a lot of misinformation about VA disability benefits and how they are treated in divorce. If veterans and their spouses have the correct information about this upfront, it helps avoid disputes as the divorce agreement is reached.

A common misstatement is that VA disability compensation is off limits in divorce, and thus, will not be factored into decisions regarding child support, spousal maintenance and other aspects of property division. This is not completely true.

Disability benefits are accessible to family members

Federal law does prevent disabled veterans’ compensation from being garnished for unpaid taxes and most creditors’ claims. However, these benefits can be garnished to meet child support and alimony obligations if the recipient waived part of his or her military retirement pay in order to receive VA disability benefits.

VA disability benefits cannot be divided as part of the division of marital property. But be aware that one’s disability benefits are factored (along with all other sources of income) into decisions regarding how much support a spouse or child should receive.

Stated another way, a recipient of VA disability benefits is assured of continuing to receive the full amount of benefits following divorce, but the court expects that recipient to remain current on child support and spousal maintenance. If a recipient of VA disability benefits has to use a portion of those benefits to make support payments, then so be it.

Consult with a VA benefits and family law attorney

Military retirement pay, VA disability benefits and other issues regarding military compensation are complex issues. You can work with a lawyer who has accreditation from the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist with benefits issues and who is also an experienced family law attorney.