Veterans Administration Apportionment and Garnishment
Veterans and Alimony Family Court
Divorce & Family Law Attorneys Military Divorce
the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital
union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and
dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties. The legal
process for divorce may also involve issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt.
broad terms, status as a veteran has little meaning in the family
court. The VA is not interested in your marital woes. You must report
divorce to VA so that your compensation or pension may be properly adjusted.
VA money may be used in calculations to determine financial
status...such as how much alimony or child support will be owed.
Withholding information about VA disability pay may result in punitive actions by the family court.
question that is posed on an near daily basis is "Do I have to pay
child support or alimony with my VA disability money? I'm told that
law protects me from that."
The answer is almost always, "Yes,
your VA disability money will be used by the family court to determine
your obligation to pay child support or alimony. It is viewed as part of
your total income and the law allows it to be used in every state. The
court can not garnish the money from the VA. But once you have it in your
checking account, the court can order you to pay the amount they have
determined to be your obligation. If you don't, you may be held in
contempt of court and you may go to jail.
Is this fair? I can't
answer that. I don't usually try to address whether or not it's a fair
system. I just report to you the reality of what's happening in our
veterans world and this is the reality we face.
If you don't
pay, the obligee (the custodial parent or the spouse owed alimony) may
ask VA to apportion your VA disability payment. While this isn't called
garnishment, it works the same way. If you are behind on payments, VA
will determine what they believe you can afford and send it to the
obligee. Once apportionment starts, you will face a steep hill in
challenging it to get away from it.
Your only real option is in
the family court. You have the right (this varies state to state) to ask
the family court judge to lower your obligation. You do not have to
have a lawyer in family court.
Disabled Veterans and Their Divorces...and Alimony and Child Support
Have you been told that because you're a veteran you won't have to pay child support or alimony?
Are you getting the advice that you're special and you'll be treated differently by the Family Court? Did you read somewhere that the federal
5301 statute protects you from paying any money from your disability benefit to your ex?
All of that is wrong. You aren't all that special.
You'll pay your bills just like everyone else. The worst mistake you'll make as your divorce goes forward to its inevitable conclusion is to listen to the fringes of the Internet who will tell you to defy the judge.
I hear from dozens of vets every day. Many write to me and ask how they can avoid foreclosure, automobile repossessions, credit card delinquencies and all those other inconveniences of life. The common cry is, "I'm a disabled veteran...how can they do this to me?"
The most common plea is that of the veteran who is being divorced by his spouse. (I'll refer to the veteran as the male gender. I'm sure there are female vets who want to avoid an obligation too, I just don't hear from them.) Our veteran usually opens an email to me by telling me that he's been advised that the family court
is in violation of the law when they order him to use his VA disability compensation to pay alimony or child support. He wants my help and support. He always
tells me that the 5301 law protects him.
Veterans believe we're special. I agree. We've accomplished things that those who haven't served never will dream of. Some of what we've done has been painful.
That doesn't separate us from the rest of society. We have to pay bills. We need jobs. We obey traffic laws, we behave when we go out in public and we try to get as mainstreamed as we can as veterans.
Unless we're divorcing. Then we seem to have the idea that we owe our families nothing. There are any number of people who promote the idea of becoming a deadbeat dad...just because you're a veteran...and the law will protect you.
The fact is that the law doesn't protect us. Nor should it. When we enter into any agreement, we must honor it. Marriage and divorce are complex social actions and have consequences. Let's begin by clicking here. You'll read the March 2nd case of Nelms v Nelms.
"Relying on the holding in Rose, the majority of state courts that have considered the issue have determined that a state court can consider, and use, VA
disability benefits as a source of income when awarding alimony."
Are you military, veteran or a dependent? Do you understand QDRO's? It's time to further your family law education.
QDRO stands for "Qualified Domestic
Relations Order." Under the federal ERISA/REA statutory scheme, any
judgment, decree, or order dealing with alimony or support for a spouse,
former spouse, child, or other dependent made according to local
domestic relations law is considered a "domestic relations order" under
"There's not a lot of sympathy for deadbeat dads, and justly so"
"Unfortunately, some members of the military community have such an
exaggerated sense of self-importance that they have concluded that their
status as military members, or veterans, give them superior rights to
those of other citizens, extending
to exemptions from the support and
property laws governing everyone else in the United States, regardless
of the harm
such would cause to others, including their own children."
are nearly 25 million veterans living in the United States today.
These brave men and women who defended our nation deserve compassion
and care. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for
providing health care and other benefits to these veterans and their
dependents; however, in recent years a number of veterans
associations and regulatory groups have drawn attention to
substandard care and conditions at many VA hospitals.
epidemic of substandard care can have a detrimental effect on the
victim’s quality of life, and may even result in permanent injury
or even death. If you believe that you or someone you love may have a
VA hospital medical malpractice claim, the lawyers at Hodes
Milman Liebeck Mosier can help.
Our experienced team has
the knowledge and resources to assist you in taking legal action
against the Veterans Administration under the Federal Tort Claims
Act, a process that can be unduly confusing and complex without the
guidance of an attorney with particular experience in filing
malpractice claims on behalf of veterans.
VA malpractice is
medical malpractice, and victims are entitled to appropriate
compensation for their hardship and suffering.
Apportionment...Just like garnishment, only different.
Are you the spouse who isn't being paid the money the Family Court ordered?
You may seek apportionment.
It's not difficult to start the process.
Print and complete this form, mail it to the VA Regional Office where
the veterans record is kept (use certified mail) and VA will be in touch
with the veteran and you. (Don't fill this out on-line. Print and mail
will also have to provide copies of the order of the Family Court and a
statement from your state's child support enforcement bureau to show arrearages.
Apportionment is very similar to wage
garnishment. The VA will hear requests for apportionment from spouses or
other dependents to whom the veteran may be required to pay child
support or alimony.
The veteran will be allowed an opportunity to appeal an application for
apportionment. The timeliness and other requirements are strict and the
veteran must pay close attention to the details outlined in the
apportionment proceeding notice.
The veteran who receives notification that an apportionment request has
been made must act quickly. The veteran may ask for a personal hearing
to dispute the apportionment as well as ask that no deductions be made
to the veteran's compensation payment until appeals are exhausted.
The most common reason for apportionment is child support arrears. The
veteran must recognize that in many states, any money collected through
apportionment and delivered to the obligee (custodial parent) may not
actually satisfy the state as a child support payment.
Many states require that payments must be recorded directly through the
state's child support enforcement authority or it will be classed as a
"gift" and it will not be applied toward arrears.
(a) If the veteran is not residing with his or her spouse or his or her
children and a claim for apportionment is filed for or on behalf of the
spouse or children.
(b) Pending the appointment of a guardian or other fiduciary.
(c)(1) Where an incompetent veteran without a fiduciary is receiving
institutional care by the United States or a political subdivision, his
or her benefit may be apportioned for a spouse or child, or, except as
provided in paragraph (c)(2), for a dependent parent, unless such
benefit is paid to a spouse (“as wife” or “as husband”) for the use of
the veteran and his or her dependents.
(2) Where a married veteran is receiving section 306 or improved pension
and the amount payable is reduced under §3.551(c) because of
hospitalization, an apportionment may be paid to the veteran's spouse as
provided in §3.454(b).
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a); 5307; 5503(a))
"The principal issue raised by the parties is one of first impression in
this State. It is whether disability benefits from the Department of
Veterans Affairs can be considered in determining the amount of spousal
support to be paid by a former spouse upon dissolution of the marriage.
Although that issue has been resolved in other jurisdictions with mixed
results, an examination of those authorities demonstrates that the
predominant view would include the disability benefits among the
resources or recurring earnings of the payor spouse. This Court adopts
that inclusionary view."
TO: STATE AGENCIES ADMINISTERING CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PLANS UNDER
TITLE IV-D OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS.
SUBJECT: Obtaining financial support for children from benefits paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
ATTACHMENT: VA Form 21-4138
BACKGROUND: Section 459 of the Social Security Act, as amended, provides
for the garnishment of certain Federal payments for the enforcement of
child support and alimony obligations. However, benefits paid by the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are specifically excluded with one
exception [42 U.S.C. 659(h)(1)(B)(iii)]. The test to determine if a
payment is subject to garnishment is whether the payment is remuneration
for employment as defined in section 459 [42 U.S.C. 659(a) and (h)].
While Federal salaries fit this test, and Title II Social Security
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits (OASDI) can be
garnished (entitlement to these benefits is based on employee
contributions into FICA), VA monetary benefits, entitlement to which is
generally based on either the veteran’s disability and wartime service
(pension) or disability from service-connected injury or disease
(compensation), is generally not considered remuneration for employment.
However, the Social Security Act and the statutes governing benefit
payment by the Department of Veterans Affairs do provide for processes
by which dependents may obtain financial support from veterans’ benefits
under certain circumstances. Below are two examples highlighting the
laws or regulations under which benefits paid by the Department of
Veterans Affairs can be paid to dependents to fulfill child support
Example #1: The Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 659(h)(1)(A)(ii)(V)]
provides that if a veteran is eligible to receive military
retired/retainer pay and has waived a portion of his/her
retired/retainer pay in order to receive disability compensation from
VA, that portion of the VA benefit received in lieu of retired/retainer
pay is subject to garnishment.
Example #2: The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued regulations
pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 5307 that provide for an apportionment of VA
benefits between the veteran and his/her dependents under certain
circumstances. VA regulations at 38 CFR Section 3.450(a)(1)(ii) provide
that, if the veteran is not residing with his or her spouse, or if the
veteran’s children are not residing with the veteran and the veteran is
not reasonably discharging his or her responsibility for the spouse’s or
children’s support, all or any part of the veteran's pension,
compensation, or emergency officers' retirement pay may be apportioned.
Additionally, where a hardship is shown to exist, 38 CFR Section 3.451
authorizes a special apportionment of a beneficiary's pension,
compensation, emergency officers' retirement pay, or dependency and
indemnity compensation between the veteran and his or her dependents.
The apportionment is based on the facts in the individual case, and may
not cause undue hardship to the other persons in interest. Factors which
determine the basis for special apportionment include the amount of
veteran benefits payable, other resources and income of the veteran and
those dependents in whose behalf apportionment is claimed, and special
needs of the veteran, the dependents, and those applying for
apportionment. Ordinarily, the VA considers that an apportionment of
more than 50 percent of the veteran's benefits would constitute undue
hardship on the veteran, while an apportionment of less than 20 percent
would not provide a reasonable amount for any apportionee.
GARNISHMENT: To arrange for garnishment, contact the VA Regional Office
that provides the non custodial parent’s benefits. VA provides a toll
free number to help in determining which regional office is appropriate
(1-800-827-1000), or refer to 5 CFR Part 581 - (Appendix A). The VA
office will determine if the veteran has waived any portion of his/her
retired/retainer pay in order to receive VA benefits. Send service of
process for garnishment to the regional office serving the veteran.
1. The IV-D agency (state child support enforcement office) should write
the Department of Veterans Affairs using agency letterhead to request
an apportionment review. The letter should be signed by both the
appropriate IV-D official and the custodial parent. The letter should be
addressed to the VA Regional Office servicing that veteran’s benefits.
Use the toll free number to determine which regional VA office is
2. Complete and attach VA Form 21-4138 (copy attached) "Statement in
Support of Claim." The normal VA procedure is to request this after
receiving an apportionment application, so time can be saved by doing
this as part of the first step. This is where information regarding
income and net worth may be provided.
3. Attach a copy of the current support order, to assist VA in the development of the apportionment award.
4. Attach a copy of the arrearage determination sheet, payment ledger, payment records, etc.
Obligee, Obligor & Apportionment
A Cautionary Tale For All Veterans
Not unlike the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Family Courts of each
state are overwhelmed by the number of cases they face. In years past
couples would separate and divorce and any obligations imposed upon them
by the court in a divorce decree was largely unenforceable. Often
enough one or the other would move across a state line and law
enforcement agencies didn't have much authority to pursue any of the
issues that were there. The problems of a divorced couple were a civil
issue, not a criminal problem and the police just weren't interested.
Family Courts evolved from this lack of authority and simultaneously
each state began to develop its own Child Support Enforcement divisions
within the authority of the state government. The gaps were filled in
over the years until each state had a set of laws that were all pretty
similar to the other. Federal law stepped in to ensure that interstate
enforcement was emphasized and enforced. No longer could a non-paying
parent simply walk across a state line to avoid prosecution.
Today the general rule is that no matter where the obligor (the parent
ordered to pay) goes, he or she is followed by the rules of the state
that issued the divorce decree and/or where the benefiting children are
residing. The obligee (the parent who receives and administers the child
support payment) need only to inform the state that has jurisdiction
that the obligor has failed to meet on obligation and that office has an
effective network to enforce the law beyond any other state borders.
History shows that parents ordered to pay support were easily able to
avoid such and the culture of "deadbeat dads" became a much maligned
subset of men in our society. To this day such parents are held up to
public scorn and some communities have weekly roundups of published
names and photos in local newspapers that ridicule offenders for being
The pendulum has swung far in the other direction over the last 40 years
or so. Today, if a magistrate of a family court orders child support it
may be an amount "impuned" by that Court and the obligation is what is
owed based on what the court believes the obligor should earn, not what
their earnings actually are. Loss of income by losing a job is rarely
seen as a good reason to lower an obligation and even illness often
won't sway a judge to modify the excessively high number owed each
Family courts have developed a reputation today of being similar to a
debtor's prison of old. If you fall behind, you go to jail. While in
jail the obligation continues to build. It's apparent that the inmate
can't work to earn money to pay the obligation and if the unfortunate
obligor is incarcerated at the end of the year, a COLA obligation may
kick in and when he or she is free, their monthly obligation is higher
Veterans aren't exempt from any of this and Family Courts have no
reasons to show any sympathy to any veteran, disabled or not. The
mission of the Court is to protect the interests of the child, nothing
more. The Court follows a formula to determine the monthly obligation
and that pretty much ends the discussion. If the obligor shows income of
(x) and the obligee shows an income of (y) the amount will be
determined to be (z) and no more is needed to be heard. Next case!
Each state today requires that most child support be paid to the state
agency that enforces such things. This process allows the state to
ensure timeliness and accounting of all payments. The good old days of
divorcing parents managing to help each other along are mostly a memory
and rigid enforcement is all that's left.
Every obligor must understand that to miss the payment to the state
office so that the state may distribute the money is a black mark
against the obligor. Without the approval of the Court, payments made
directly to the obligee that bypass the state are determined to be
"gifts" and they do not fulfill the requirement of the divorce decree.
This may be a deadly trap for the disabled veteran. Little known to veterans is a process known as "apportionment".
While a disability compensation payment can't be garnisheed by debtors,
all an obligee must do is notify the Regional Office of jurisdiction
that a veteran is not meeting alimony or child support payments and the
veteran will be notified that the adverse action of apportionment is
about to begin. The veteran has some of the usual rights to appeal and
to a hearing and so on but absolutely no right to any assistance by the
VA. VA will not defend the veteran and if the obligee can reasonably
show a current decree and order of support as well as arrearage, the
apportionment will proceed.
There is a lesson to be learned here. No matter what you're told by
others and no matter what you may wish to believe, your status as a
veteran or as a disabled veteran holds no special immunity or promise of
preferential treatment in most legal and financial arenas. As you enter
into any financial agreements, whether in a divorce court or elsewhere,
it's up to you to know what you're signing up for.
In this case the Department of Veterans Affairs had no reason to be
involved in this veterans issues other than to follow its scant rules
about apportionment and none of that is designed to help the vet. No
matter where you walk, there will be traps.
Pay particular attention to where you tread in the Family Court.
Veterans must pay child support as it is ordered by the
family court. Failure to do so may land the veteran in jail.
Disabled veterans must pay child
support. The amount of the
VA disability compensation check can and
usually will be
used in the financial statement to calculate the amount
Veterans disability payments may
not be garnished. They
may be apportioned by the VA and that amount
may be given directly to the obligee.
Veterans disability money is not protected. Don't pay
attention to the Internet rumors. Pay attention to the
I've been writing about disabled veterans who receive VA disability compensation benefits and who are divorcing for many years.
question that is posed to me on an near daily basis is "Jim, do I have
to pay child support or alimony with my VA disability money? I'm told
that the law protects me from that."
answer is almost always, "Yes, your VA disability money will be used by
the family court to determine your obligation to pay child support or
alimony. It is viewed as part of your total income and the law allows it
to be used in every state. The court can not garnish the money from the
VA. But once you have it in your checking account, the court can order
you to pay the amount they have determined to be your obligation. If you
don't, you may be held in contempt of court and you may go to jail.
this fair? I can't answer that. I don't usually try to address whether
or not it's a fair system. I just report to you the reality of what's
happening in our veterans world and this is the reality we face.
you don't pay, the obligee (the custodial parent or the spouse owed
alimony) may ask VA to apportion your VA disability payment. While this
isn't called garnishment, it works the same way. If you are behind on
payments, VA will determine what they believe you can afford and send it
to the obligee. Once apportionment starts, you will face a steep hill
in challenging it to get away from it.
only real option is in the family court. You have the right (this
varies state to state) to ask the family court judge to lower your
obligation. You do not have to have a lawyer in family court.
Read on for an article I wrote some time ago and much more about how you will fare in the divorce.
VETERANS' ADVOCATE JIM STRICKLAND EXPLODES THE "5301" MYTH
An article from 2008
court jurisdiction is not preempted by any federal statute. Courts can
establish child support orders even if the non-custodial parent received
veteran's disability benefits as his sole means of support."
is messy. Lawyers who practice family law see some of the ugliest
confrontations between people possible. There's no way to predict what
will do or say to extract revenge on the other.
it will get down and dirty is a given. When children and money are
involved, it's likely to become nastier by a country mile.
veteran wrote to me about his child support obligation and how it will
be seen by the family court system in the calculation of his child
From Jim's Mailbag Jim's Mailbag is now hosted at Stateside Legal
I am currently service connected for multiple medical condition with a
combined rating of 80%. I am drawing $1547 per month for self and
I retired (from work) 01/02/09 and had my annual income
cut by approximately 32%. Prior to my retirement, I was paying child
support for 1 kid in the amount
of $826.15. Based on my new
retirement income, I started working with the State Bureau of Child
Support Enforcement to have my child support recalculated
based on my
retired pay. Before the they could help me, the mother had me served
with court papers relevant to the modification of an existing 2002 Child
Order. During a court hearing, the attorney for the child's mother
raised the issue that my VA Compensation Monthly Check of $1547 was not
included in calculating the new child support monthly payment.
My question is 'Can a State
Family Court use my VA compensation as income to calculate a new monthly
Child Support payment?' I have read USC Title 38 concerning VA
compensation and it appears to me that my VA compensation can not be
attached for Child Support. Do you have any information on VA
compensation being used as income to calculate Child Support payment
amounts? I really need help with this matter ASAP.
When he refers
to "USC Title 38 concerning VA compensation" I know he's speaking of
Title 38, Part IV, Chapter 53 § 5301, Nonassignability and exempt status
of benefits. I've heard a lot about this "5301 rule" over the last two
or three years.
We'll refer to it as "5301" for the sake of brevity.
plain English language, 5301 seems to tell us that there are almost no
circumstances that anyone can collect (garnish) a veterans disability
payment for any debt he might owe. It does say that any federal debt may
be exempted (IRS, school loans, etc.) but that all other creditors are
forbidden to demand any amount of the disability compensation money.
This applies whether before or after it is received by the veteran. In
other words, it can't be garnished like a paycheck. Once it's in the
veterans hands it can't be touched so long as it's identified as money
from a Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) disability compensation
Before we travel farther down the path of 5301, we
should talk briefly about how federal laws are made. In a nutshell, a
bill is introduced by a Congressional Representative that proposes a
law. It passes before committees in the House and in the Senate and
eventually finds its way to the desk of the President. Published in the
Federal Register it then becomes law.
As it becomes law, the
courts then apply it to everyday circumstances of the citizens they
serve. The judge presiding in the courtroom must carefully read the law
and then interpret what he believes to be the intent of Congress when
the law was formulated. If you've followed legal matters you've read of
the expressions of "the letter of the law" as opposed to "the intent of
To try to interpret law only by using the precise
language or letter of the law is a mistake that far too many lay readers
will make. Lawyers and judges understand that while the literal
interpretation is important, the intent of the body of lawmakers is even
In the examination of 5301 we must try to
determine what the Congress intended at the moments the law was proposed
and passed. Once a law is passed, the members of Congress will change,
society at large will change and even the office of the president may
see a new shift to the left or right. The law that was passed is still
there, unchanged for years to come.
Language is a poor way to
communicate. Words don't have the precision of numbers. If you add 2 + 2
it's going to equal 4 this year and on into the next century. Knowing
that words have subtleties that can't be seen as clearly as a
mathematical equation, enforcers of our laws must look deep between the
lines to determine the intent of a particular statute.
I asked a friend, a lawyer who I trust to know these
things, for his opinion. His reply was brief and to the point; "As I
expected, there are a number of cases already on this point. In sum, the
courts are consistent in finding that the statute protects veterans
from 'creditors' and related 'process' and 'spouses' using 'marital
property laws' are not 'creditors.' Whether you agree with it or not,
that is how 5301 is interpreted."
In an article written by
Attorney Zenell Brown the author points out that the Supreme Court
addressed the issue in Rose v. Rose 107 S.Ct. 2029 (1987)
http://supreme.justia.com/us/481/619/ Attorney Brown notes that, "The
Court held that state courts can establish child support orders even if
the non-custodial parent received veteran's disability benefits as his
sole means of support." She goes on to tell us, "State court
jurisdiction is not preempted by any federal statute."
and I believe this is at the heart of the discussion about the
obligations of a parent, Brown says, "It was the Court's position that
Congress intended that these benefits provide for the veteran as well as
It's not much of a reach to understand that
when Congress enacted this 5301 law, the intent was to protect the
veteran and his family from unscrupulous creditors if and when the
veteran were to fall on hard times. In the eyes of Congress and the
courts, the family unit remains just that even after divorce when
children are involved. The veteran's obligations to the family aren't
relieved because of divorce or disability.
The article goes on to
say that in some few states there is considerable controversy about
interpretation of the 5301 law and that overall it's, "ripe for
In the case of a child support order, arguing the
5301 rule seems to be moot. While the DVA will not support garnishment
or attachment of a disability compensation payment (arguing that DVA
doesn't want to become a collection agency for the children's and family
services divisions of every state) DVA will easily allow "
apportionment" of that same money. For a custodial parent to apportion a
sum of the disability compensation payment is a simple matter of
writing a letter to the Regional Office that controls the veterans file
and providing a copy of an order for child support and some financial
The veteran is then notified of the apportionment
request and given the usual opportunities for appeal. In my experience,
VA quickly defaults to the needs of the child and the custodial parent
and begins to assign the requested amount within a short time.
apportionment is established, that amount of money is forwarded
directly to the custodial parent. This path of providing for the family
of the veteran has a unique pitfall of its own that most veterans won't
discover until it's far too late.
When a child support obligation
is ordered in a state family court, the usual standard is that the
money is delivered to the state agency of child support enforcement.
Whether the money is to be withheld from paychecks or mailed in by the
obligor, the money must be accounted for by the state agency
responsible. Non-custodial parents are sometimes shocked to discover
that cash given directly to children for special events, birthdays and
the like, aren't counted toward the child support obligation. If the
state doesn't track it officially, it didn't happen.
In the case
of the custodial parent who writes to the DVA asking for an
apportionment, if that parent prevails, the DVA sends a check directly
to the parent obligee. That money thus bypasses the state agency and
isn't accounted for. Then later, the state may notify the obligor parent
to say that s/he hasn't met the requirements and enforcement actions
will occur soon.
Once it's discovered that the apportionment
money wasn't counted, I know of no cases where that money has been
forgiven and credited to the obligated parent.
Recent efforts by some veterans groups to require states to reinterpret the 5301 law fall mostly on deaf ears.
March of 2009, Iowa House File 170 was excluded from further
consideration by the legislature. The bill would have excluded (per
5301) veterans disability compensation payments in calculations of the
amount of the court ordered child support or alimony obligation.
not giving House File 170 further consideration, the Iowa legislature
reinforced the way the family courts are currently enforcing alimony and
child support obligations. The veterans activists movement to revise
law to help them avoid a child support or alimony obligations has
backfired and led to a stronger support of the current decisions.
DOA was Iowa House File 66, "Veterans organizations wouldn't have to
pay anything for a class A liquor license, regardless of how much liquor
they sell." Connected? Hmmm?)
Most of us who divorce when there
are children in the mix want to do what we can to care for those kids.
The great majority of non-custodial parents work hard to remain in the
lives of their kids and to provide the financial support that the
children often desperately need.
It isn't always that way though.
The laws of the states have become harsh and unforgiving for the
obligate parents because of the history of those who will stop at
nothing to dodge their responsibilities. Over the last few years the
pendulum has swung far over to the side of stiff requirements and rigid
enforcement of family court orders. Magistrates and judges have almost
no leeway in establishing the amounts of an obligation as they're only
allowed to use the data from a financial report to establish the numbers
of the dollars owed each month.
Even divorcing spouses who want
to make their own agreements are often not allowed to do so. The courts
know that in months or years, these sorts of arrangements have little
chance of lasting. Today's family courts are overcrowded with couples
who want to publicly argue the smallest details down to the nth degree.
As the courts are becoming more crowded with shouting ex-spouses,
they're more disinclined to hear it and so they simply set the orders
and then pass it on to the appropriate enforcement bodies. Some states
today will only hear pleas for modification of family court orders every
The bottom line is that for the foreseeable future, a
veteran who has a child support or alimony order should not depend on
the remote possibility that the 5301 law will offer any relief. Any
veteran entering into a divorce should be represented by an experienced
lawyer who will guide the veteran to a reasonable conclusion and an
order than will likely be based on the payment of a DVA disability
compensation amount as income.
The best divorce agreement and
subsequent alimony and/or child support order is one that has been
carefully considered long before coming to face the judge.
Divorce and the financial burden that will come along with having children will be painful.
Just how painful it will be and how long the hurt lasts is largely up to you.