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Spousal support payments could change for military disabled

Disabled veterans who qualify are paid disability benefits to help them live with their injuries or illnesses. These benefits, however, are the subject of current debate because the monthly payments are presently calculated as income in divorce cases by courts when they work to determine any spousal maintenance payments to be awarded to a former spouse.

One disabled solider has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider reviewing this issue in his divorce matter. Like many soldiers going through a divorce in Ohio and elsewhere, the disability benefits paid to the injured solider were used to determine the spousal support that he must pay to his ex-wife. The solider argues that the disability payments should not be used in the calculations because they were intended to pay a soldier for loss of income due to a disability based upon his or her service to our nation.

However, proponents of keeping the disability payments in the spousal maintenance calculations point to other court decisions as well as terms in the law that support the notion that the disability payments are intended for both the soldier and his or her family. The intent of the disability payments is just one of the questions surrounding this divorce matter.

If the Supreme Court decides to hear this case and rules in the soldier's favor, the changes to what an Ohio military member pays to a former spouse in a divorce could be widespread. Many ex-spouses of soldiers receive spousal maintenance based on the total disposable income of the soldier, including not only retirement benefits but also the disability payments. It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court chooses to take on this case.

Source:, "Ruling sought on split of military benefits in divorce," Tom Philpott, May 21, 2012

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