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VA Disability Benefits Paid for Alimony in Arizona | Voted “Best of the Valley”

Posted on : January 25, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
VA Disability Benefits to Pay Alimony in Arizona

VA Disability Payments Used to Pay Alimony in Arizona

VA Disability Benefits Paid for Alimony in Arizona.

VA Disability Benefits Paid for Alimony in Arizona.

In the case of Dougall v. Dougall, the Arizona Court of Appeals addressed an appeal by Mr. Dougall of the trial court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration challenging an order pertaining to payment of spousal maintenance arrearages to Mrs. Dougall. Husband argued that Arizona Revised Statute 25-530 prevents the court from considering Veterans Administration (VA) disability benefits as income when calculating and determining the payment of a spousal maintenance arrearage. The marriage between the two parties involved was dissolved in 2008.  The Decree required the husband to pay wife $750 per month in spousal maintenance.

Mr. Dougall was ordered by the court to obtain appraisals of two parcels of property owned by the parties and, further, to pay Mrs. Dougall a fair share of the equity in the parcels. In 2011, the court entered two judgments against the husband for failing to comply with the court’s final orders set forth in the Decree of Dissolution of marriage.  Specifically, the court granted Mrs. Dougall a $5,000 judgment for her interest in one of the parcels of property. The second judgment for $4,745 represented spousal maintenance arrearages. The court also reduced husband’s spousal maintenance obligation to $500 per month effective August 2011.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
A Google User
A Google User
20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Google User
Google User
14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
A Google User
A Google User
16:03 22 Nov 17
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
A Google User
A Google User
22:14 28 Jun 17
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
A Google User
A Google User
18:16 18 Sep 17
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
A Google User
A Google User
19:22 23 Aug 17
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
A Google User
A Google User
17:44 23 Jun 16
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
Bassam Ziadeh
Bassam Ziadeh
21:20 02 Apr 18
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Larry Flint
Larry Flint
21:53 27 Feb 18
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Sam Franchimone
Sam Franchimone
22:09 12 Sep 13
I cannot express enough how thankful I am that I found Hildrebrand Law. Chris Hildebrand is an excellent attorney who has my best interests in mind and always encourages me to do the right thing regardless of what the opposing party is doing. Chris knows family law very well and relies on that knowledge to format options and solutions for each situation that may arise. He knows what the Court expects and what will and will not be tolerated. He has attempted to settle this case quickly and as inexpensively as possible from the start. His paralegal, Laura, is remarkable. She is organized, quick to respond, and compassionate. Chris is well prepared with a binder full of detailed and organized information and that is likely due to her thorough skills and expertise. While getting a divorce that was unexpected is a painful and difficult process, Chris and Laura treat my family and I like friends rather than another just "client." I am hopeful that I do not need to recommend divorce lawyers to anyone in the future but if I do, Hildebrand Law will be a recommendation I would give hands down.
Lindsay Donoian
Lindsay Donoian
06:53 27 Sep 14

In August 2012, wife filed a petition to enforce the two judgments against Mr. Dougall alleging he had made no effort to pay the judgments issued against him. Husband responded by filing a memorandum seeking credit toward the two judgments for debts he paid on wife’s behalf, a loan he gave her, and a vehicle he gave her. After a hearing, the trial court held Mr. Dougall in contempt (December 11, 2012) and concluded he could purge the contempt charge by paying the awarded $500 per month in spousal maintenance and an additional $200 per month paid towards the spousal maintenance arrearages until that obligation is paid in full.

The Court Can Consider Disability Pay Used to Pay Past Due Alimony in Arizona

A separate income withholding order directed at husband’s VA disability benefits was issued by the trial court for him to pay Mrs. Dougall an additional $200 per month. The court denied husband’s request for offsets. Mr. Dougall filed a combined a motion for a new trial, a motion for the court to reconsider its ruling, and a motion for the court to “stay” its orders on January 4, 2013. The court held a hearing on the motions and denied the motions by a minute entry order entered on February 8, 2013.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.

Hildebrand Law, PC | Voted Best of Our Valley in Arizona Foothills Magazine.

The court did modify the arrearages order at Mr. Dougall’s request reducing the monthly payment amount from $200 per month to $100 per month for the first three months then increasing the monthly payment amount to $220 per month for fifteen months and then reinstating the original $200 per month arrearage payment. Mr. Dougall challenged the trial court’s orders (December 11, 2012, and February 8, 2013) by filing a Notice of Appeal contending the Arizona Court of Appeals had jurisdiction, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 12-120.21 and 12-2101. The Arizona Court of Appeals exercised its independent duty to review whether it had jurisdiction to consider Mr. Dougall’s appeal. A Notice of Appeal must be filed within thirty days of the entry of the order or judgment from which the appeal is taken. The Arizona Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction over the December 11, 2012, order as the Notice of Appeal was filed well beyond the time allotted.

While husband’s motions for new trial and motion to amend or alter the judgment are “time-extending” motions in relation to the mandatory time limit for filing a notice of appeal, those motions must be filed no later than fifteen days after the entry of the judgments and orders which those motions address. When those time extending motions are untimely filed, they do not extend the time to file a Notice of Appeal. Thus the Arizona Court of Appeals did not have jurisdiction to consider husband’s appeal directly challenging the December 11th order. The Arizona Court of Appeals did have jurisdiction to address the appeal of the February 8th order.

Court Cannot Consider VA Disability Pay in Calculating Alimony in Arizona

The modification of spousal maintenance ordered by the court in 2011 did not take into consideration Mr. Dougall’s VA disability benefits. Arizona state law prohibits the court from considering service related VA disability benefits when determining the amount of spousal maintenance to be ordered. The trial judge, however, did consider husband’s total income (including VA disability benefits) when addressing wife’s petition to enforce spousal maintenance. Mr. Dougall was ordered to pay $200 per month in addition to the $500 per month spousal maintenance currently in place until he had paid the entire spousal maintenance arrearage.

VA Disability Benefits in an Arizona Divorce.

VA Disability Benefits in an Arizona Divorce.

In determining the $200 per month payment amount, the court considered testimony regarding husband’s total income, including his disability benefits, to conclude he had $3,400 in income after paying the court ordered $500 per month spousal maintenance payment.   The Arizona Court of Appeals concluded the trial judge did not make a determination regarding whether to award spousal maintenance the amount of the alimony award. Those determinations had already been made and were, in fact, affirmed by the court on appeal. The proceedings under review arose from husband’s failure to pay spousal maintenance arrearages that were previously awarded. Thus, the Arizona Court of Appeals found that Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-530 does not prevent a court from considering VA disability benefits when determining the ability of the person to pay an additional amount towards spousal maintenance arrearages.

The trial court also entered an income withholding orders directed at Mr. Dougall’s VA disability benefits directing the VA to withhold $200 per month to be applied towards his spousal maintenance arrearage. The trial court order also provided that husband would be responsible for paying the additional $200.00 arrearage payment if the VA refused to honor the income withholding order. The VA refused to withhold any monies from husband’s VA disability payments as ordered. The Arizona Court of Appeals vacated the income withholding order directed at husband’s VA disability benefits.

The Arizona Court of Appeals concluded Mr. Dougall could use any portion of his income, including his VA disability payments,  to pay the additional monthly payment for spousal maintenance arrearages without violating Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-530. The Arizona Court of Appeals decided to dismiss in part, affirm in part and vacate in part the trial court’s rulings. The Arizona Court of Appeals determined that the trial court did not err when considering Mr. Dougall’s VA disability benefits in relation to his ability to pay his spousal maintenance arrearages.

The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the spousal maintenance award, the division of property and debts, as well as the modification of spousal maintenance. Husband’s appeal challenging the December 11, 2012, order was dismissed. The income withholding order directed at husband’s VA disability benefits was vacated. All other trial court orders were affirmed.

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