In Georgia, many men and women have served in the military and can attest to the effect this has on their lives. A disabled veteran is now questioning whether state divorce courts are allowed to consider his disability benefits when computing spousal support.
The veteran feels such an act by a state court violates federal law and is now calling upon the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision on this issue. In his petition, he also asks the court to consider whether, under federal law, a state court is allowed to treat Veterans Administration disability benefits like any other marital asset in a divorce.
In connection with his experiences in the Air Force, this veteran suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to his PTSD, he was granted VA benefits. In 2010, he and his wife divorced. A district court judge determined the amount of spousal support he had to pay and included consideration of his VA disability benefits in the equation.
The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the lower court.
Dissatisfied, the veteran's attorney decided to bring this issue before the Supreme Court. In the eyes of his attorney, VA disability benefits should be immune from spousal support calculations under the U.S. Code. According to his attorney, state courts are split on their execution of federal law. Other states seem to be ignoring federal law completely.
While his attorney acknowledges that many states do consider these benefits when calculating spousal support, he doesn't think they should.
He argues that these benefits are for the veteran and veterans with families receive a higher payment. While married, the spouse receives a portion of this payment to compensate them for living with a disabled veteran. However, once divorced, the spouse is no longer in that position. And this veteran's lawyer argues the ex should no longer receive those benefits.
Arizona is currently about the only state to protect veterans' disability benefits from spousal support computations. Should this petition succeed, neither Georgia nor any other state will be allowed to consider VA benefits when calculating spousal support.