VA apportionment and child support issues
I am writing on behalf of a fellow soldier and combat brother of my husband's. He is getting an apportionment taken out of his va disability check that is going to his ex wife in place of his child support but iowa will not recognize it as payment so iowa says he is not paying and back child support is piling up etc. I would love to talk more in depth about this if you are Interested because the research I have done states this can be a loophole in the system and I have contacted senators etc and they are interested but if I can't get this particular person on board with giving up his info how can we still help other vets this is happening to?
Is this happening or is this man misunderstanding the system?
This issue affects many veterans and is poorly understood even by family practice attorneys, the family courts system and the child support enforcement offices of most states. Offices of your representatives rarely have a clue because they don't understand how this unique "apportionment" system of the VA works. VA payments may not be garnished in the usual fashion. There are laws that protect a veterans disability payments from creditors. However, the VA recognizes how important child support and alimony issues are to the court ordered beneficiary and they allow for a process called apportionment. The beneficiary of the family court order may apply to the VA seeking some of the payment that has been ordered. Once VA investigates the application for apportioned benefits, VA may order that a payment be deducted form the VA benefit of the obligor and sent directly to the obligee.
Most states require that any and all payments for child support and alimony be sent to the state enforcement agency for distribution to the obligee. This ensures that the state is able to account for the timely payment of the correct amount that will satisfy the court's order. The goal is to avoid disputes of who sent how much money and when.
Any payment sent directly to the obligee (or to the child in child support cases) is not recorded by the state enforcement offices and is therefore seen as a gift. Gifts are not recorded and can't satisfy the court's order.
VA will not work with the state. VA will only communicate with the obligee and the veteran. This allows VA to avoid getting too deeply involved in hundreds of thousands of divorce disputes.
Far too many veterans waste time seeking help from Senators or other politicians without understanding that no politician has any legal authority to do anything to correct this situation on an individual basis.
There is only one source to turn to so that this can be fixed properly. The veteran must turn to the family court that has jurisdiction of the divorce order. That is usually the family court where the obligee or the children claim permanent residence. The veteran should contact the clerk of court and ask for a hearing before the judge to ask that any VA apportionment money be recorded as meeting the court's order. The veteran may act "pro se". This means the veteran does not have to have an expensive family law attorney as representative. Family courts are often structured so that disputes like this may be sorted out without a great deal of fuss or expense.
Once the magistrate has ordered that the VA apportionment payment does satisfy (or partially satisfy) the intent of the original order, the state enforcement office will take it from there. The judge may even order that all past payments be recorded and used to satisfy any arrears.
Most importantly, veterans must clearly understand that this is the only way that anything will be done about the issue of apportionment. There is no other pathway that I'm aware of to resolve the problem. The family courts wield a lot of authority and other legal entities are not likely to interfere with any order from those courts. This is a problem that the veteran can and must solve for him or her self.