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 are 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 former 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 the law. La Vancha felt that spousal maintenance obligation due from her former 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 support, the court shall consider any federal disability benefits awarded to the other spouse for service-connected disabilities according to 38 United States Code Chapter 11.”
Section 25-319 states the following about 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 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 turns to legislative history for an 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 requires that the court exclude benefits received about title 38 from consideration in determining spousal support awards and how much the award should be dependent upon the spouse’s income from non-title 38 revenue.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about veterans disability and alimony in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about alimony laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.