Federal Law Prohibits State Courts from Counting Veterans’ Disability Pay as Property

In an opinion dated September 18, 2020, the Georgia Court of Appeals cited to Howell v. Howell, and ruled that state courts could not force a disabled veteran to use his disability pay to “make up” the difference in the former spouse’s lost share of divisible marital property because the disabled veteran was required to waive his retirement pay to receive his federal disability pay.

State Court Cannot Count Disability Pay as Alimony Instead of Property and Violates Veteran’s Due Process Rights by Doing So

The court also ruled that the trial court could not simply use the fact that the veteran’s disability pay was non-disposable, and therefore, unavailable as “property” and simply make the veteran pay alimony instead. The court recognized that this would be a violation of the veteran’s due process rights as well as contrary to federal law.

Trinity Advocates continues to actively monitor state cases that address the disposition of federal veterans’ disability benefits in state court proceedings. After submitting the amicus curiae brief in Howell Trinity Advocates and its lawyers continue to fight for veterans’ rights in state court proceedings throughout the country.