On Thursday, April 22, 2021, in a second of three petitions filed in the United States Supreme Court in the last week, Attorney Carson J. Tucker filed a petition to challenge Michigan’s child support guidelines, which allow the state family support agency to count restricted federal disability benefits as income for purposes of calculating a totally and permanently disabled veteran’s support obligations in state court divorce proceedings.
The federal constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to pass all laws necessary and proper to carry into effect its enumerated military powers. This includes Congress’s appropriations for the compensation and benefits paid to the nation’s veterans. At least 5 million veterans in the United States are totally and permanently disabled. Disability benefits are protected from all legal and equitable state process by federal law. Nonetheless, the states continue to count 100 percent of veterans’ disability benefits as income and force veterans under threat of contempt and imprisonment to use their only source of sustenance to satisfy exorbitant state court support orders, penalties, and attorneys’ fees.
This situation works an injustice on America’s veteran population and causes homelessness, addiction, incarceration and all too often suicide. When disability benefits are on the table in a state court divorce proceeding, unscrupulous lawyers and parties know that taking the veteran’s children will allow them to access these federally appropriated benefits, which are supposed to be used to compensate the veteran for the injuries he or she incurred in the service of our country.