Missouri – should a veteran's disability pay go towards alimony?

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That is the question being asked around the country in a national movement headed by the veteran advocacy group Operation Firing For Effect. The group is dedicated to advocating for veterans to protect or improve the benefits, services and entitlements earned by members of the United States armed services. The group’s goal is to prevent a veteran’s disability pay from being taken away in divorce court, said a veteran. To have to fight in a war and then come back to fight for your hard-earned benefits just is not right.
The veteran, who is currently going through a divorce and is fighting to keep his disability benefits from being considered as income and thus considered marital property subject to property division laws agrees with the organization’s stand. Some state courts have used a veteran’s disability pay in calculating alimony and spousal support payments, but Operation Firing For Effect doesn’t think the justice system should use a veteran’s disability pay for alimony payments.

In fact, the organization believes that state courts that include disability pay income calculations are violating federal law that states that payments of benefits due under any law administered by the Secretary is to be exempt from the claim of creditors and “shall not be liable to attachment, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process.”

The group’s public relations director said there is a serious problem in civil courts because the federal government considers veteran disability benefits to be tax exempt, not income and thus not subject to seizure or garnishment. The state courts are viewing it differently and in some cases violating federal law, according to the director.

What do you think, should a veteran’s disability pay be used to calculate alimony or spousal support payments in a divorce like pensions and retirement accounts earned during a marriage generally are?

Source: Taunton Daily Gazette, “Berkley man fights for veterans to keep disability comp during divorce,” Marc Larocque, June 11, 2012

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