Many veterans receive payments from the U.S. government for service-connected disabilities. Spousal support and alimony laws vary state by state, while veteran benefits are regulated by the federal government. An attorney in Oregon plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case to determine whether states violate federal law when they allow divorce courts to include veteran’s disability compensation when calculating spousal support. You can access more information about this case here: Veteran Disability And Divorce. The claim the attorney is making is that the federal law which prohibits taxation, claims of creditors, attachments, levy and seizures on VA disability benefits also prohibits inclusion of these benefits in calculations for spousal support.
Spousal support and alimony pendente lite are types of support that one spouse can obtain from the other after the two have separated and before the divorce is finalized. In some cases one spouse may be entitled to alimony, which are payments awarded after the divorce has been finalized. In calculating the amount or need for spousal support the court will, among other things, look to each spouse’s individual income.
In Pennsylvania ‘income’ is defined by the support law in Title 23, Section 4302. The income definition is quite expansive, and while it does not specifically name veteran benefits, it does list social security disability benefits as well as temporary or permanent disability benefits. Additionally, the Superior Court has held that VA disability payments may be considered for support calculations. See Parker v. Parker, 335 Pa. Super. 348 (1984). Thus, in Pennsylvania, without a federal law to overrule it, it seems very likely that a veteran’s disability payments will continue to be considered income for the purposes of spousal support and alimony.