Although federal law is clear, judges are often ignoring it and calculating veterans’ disability compensation into divorce settlements as a divisible asset. Very often these payments are the only assets a veteran has. When judges include it as income, it creates great hardship for those veterans, who rarely have the resources to hire legal help to contest the taking of their benefits.
Arizona HB 2348, a bill to protect disabled parents from these family court abuses abuses, was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (pictured) in April. Thanks goes to Arizona House Member Frank Antenori, who sponsored the bill, as well as Mark Beres of the American Retirees Association and the ULSG, and Fathers & Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson, who worked with Beres. Robinson was also instrumental in the passage of a similar bill, SB 285, in California last year.
F & F is also working with advocates and legislators on similar legislation in numerous other states. For example, HB 1165, a military parent bill also modeled on SB 285, was signed into law in March by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. Thanks to Indiana activist/lobbyist Lisa Wilken for her fine work on the bill.
The abuses being committed in family court concerning disabled parents’ VA benefits remind many F & F supporters of their own experiences in family court–a lack of respect for the law, violations of due process, fathers (and sometimes mothers) being financially plundered and shook down for money they don’t owe, and similar abuses.