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.
The abuses being committed in family court concerning disabled parents’ VA benefits remind many Fathers and Families 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.
In 2009, Fathers and Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson was instrumental in passing SB 285 to address this issue in California. Last year F & F worked to support an effort led by Mark Beres of the American Retirees Association and the ULSG to pass a similar bill (HB 2348, sponsored by House Member Frank Antenori) in Arizona. Also in 2010, HB 1165, which was also modeled on SB 285 and pushed by Indiana activist/lobbyist Lisa Wilken, was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
Now a package of bills (HB 1110, HB 1111, and HB 1218) based on the Arizona and California laws have been introduced into the Hawaii legislature–thanks to Dennis Egge of the American Retirees Association and Mark Beres for their excellent work on these bills. We will be providing assistance and will keep our members informed of the bills’ progress and any related Action Alerts.