Veterans Disability and Alimony in Arizona

In Arizona, a divorced individual with a spousal maintenance obligation can ask the court for a modification if there is significant changes to their circumstances and their ability to cover the agreed upon amount financially. If the individual responsible for paying spousal maintenance obtains a court order for modification, the ex spouse can appeal the court’s decision. Appeals regarding court ordered spousal maintenance changes in Arizona should be based upon apparent errors in interpreting the law in regards to the situation at hand.


Should Veterans Disability Payment Be Included for Alimony

In regards the marriage of Rick C. Downing, Petitioner/Appellee v. La Vancha Downing, Respondent/Appellant, La Vancha filed an appeal after the trial court ruled in Rick’s favor to reduce his monthly spousal maintenance obligation to $100 per month. The appeal was based on La Vancha’s belief that the trial court’s decision was founded on a misinterpretation of law. La Vancha felt that spousal maintenance obligation due from her ex husband should not have been lowered and that her request for attorney’s fees should have been included in the final ruling.


Does Arizona Law Prohibit Veterans Disability Payments Consider in Alimony

The original decision of the trial court to reduce the monthly spousal obligation due from Rick to La Vancha was based on interpretation of the law including: Section 25-530 and Section 25-319.

Section 25-330 states the following:

“In determining whether to award spousal maintenance or the amount of any award of spousal maintenance, the court shall consider any federal disability benefits awarded to the other spouse for service-connected disabilities pursuant to 38 United States Code Chapter 11.”

Section 25-319 states the following in relation to the information above:

“The maintenance order shall be in the amount and for a period of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including: the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance, the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.”

The trial court’s decision to decrease the monthly spousal maintenance obligation due from Rick to La Vancha was based on an application of the plain language of Section 25-530. The modification was made after the court considered the difference between La Vancha’s income and Rick’s income with his title 38 benefits excluded. La Vancha argues that while Section 25-530 prevents the court from using Rick’s title 38 benefits to fund spousal maintenance orders, it does not allow a court to disregard or “pretend” that a spouse does not have funds that they actually have. She argues that the court should consider that Rick’s title 38 benefits cover his needs financially in full leaving the remainder of his income as discretionary or “completely allocable” and available to fund spousal maintenance in La Vancha’s words.


Does Prohibiting Veterans Disability Payments for Alimony Create Inequality

La Vancha went on to propose additional issues related to the laws at hand, including: gender inequality related to the claim that women are a minority in the military and are also denied equal opportunity in combat leaving the majority of disability recipients to be men. In combination with this claim, La Vancha urged the court to consider that the vast majority of spouses seeking maintenance are women. La Vancha argued that, assuming these two pieces of information are true and connected, the case represents a wider issue of gender inequality.

La Vancha also proposed that the court turn to legislative history for exact interpretation of the laws used to determine the spousal maintenance in her case as she felt that the original intentions behind the laws as set down should be considered when being applied to her case.


Veterans Disability and Alimony in Arizona | The Ruling

In can be concluded that the trial court made the appropriate decision when excluding the title 38 benefits from consideration when using legally outlined factors to determine spousal maintenance and a spousal maintenance change in Arizona. The plain language evident in Section 25-530 clearly requires that the court exclude benefits received in relation to title 38 from consideration in determining spousal maintenance awards and how much the award should be dependent upon the spouse’s income from non-title 38 revenue.