Divorce in Michigan and veterans benefits: There is a myth regarding Michigan Divorce Veteran benefits and disability Veteran benefits. The veteran benefits myth is that Congress clearly intended to protect veterans’ benefits from being awarded to anyone other than the veteran, including children and former spouses.
The foundation of the veteran benefit myth likely stems from Title 38 of U.S. Code section 5301(a)(1) which exempts veterans benefits from ordinary creditors. The exemption specifically prohibits ordinary creditors from “attaching” or garnishing Veterans benefits. This logic is inappropriately extended to family members and former spouses.
In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court in Rose vs. Rose specifically held that the “anti-attachment clause” in Title 38 does not apply to Court orders which require a veteran to support his or her family.
The key learning. Veteran benefits (VA benefits) can and should be considered as income in both a child support and spousal support (alimony) analysis.
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How to request a special apportionment of Veteran benefits?
- The state CSE agency should write to the VA using agency letterhead to request an apportionment review. The letter should be signed by both the appropriate CSE agency official and the custodial parent (CP). The letter should be addressed to the VA Regional Office servicing that veteran’s benefits. Use the Inquiry Line to determine which VA office is appropriate.
- After receiving an apportionment application, the VA usually requests a completed VA form 21-0788, “Information Regarding Apportionment of Beneficiary’s Award.” This is where the CSE agency provides information regarding the CP’s income and net worth. A child support office can save time by submitting the form as part of the first step. Form VA 21-0788 may be found on the web at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/.
- Attach a copy of the current support order to assist VA in the development of the apportionment award.
- Attach a copy of the arrearage determination, payment ledger, payment records, etc.
Where to send an Income Withholding Order (IWO) to attach a VA benefit payment
Send the IWO to the VA regional office serving the veteran. Contact the VA Regional Office Inquiry Line: 1-800-827-1000 for help in determining the servicing regional office.
VA Financial Services Customer Service
The VA Financial Services Customer Service phone number is (877) 353-9791 (toll-free).
Case-specific inquiries: 1-800-827-1000
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By: Daniel Findling
The Divorce Guy, Michigan Divorce Attorneys and Specialists