December 2020 | 2020COA173 (Co. App. 2020)

In re the Parental Responsibilities Concerning M.E.R. and D.E.R.-L (Colorado 2020)

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) does not prohibit the inclusion of a parent’s veteran’s disability benefits as income for child support. The father filed a proceeding to allocate parental responsibilities for his two children. With respect to child support, the father’s income consisted of military retirement and veteran’s benefits. The trial court included both sources in the father’s gross income and set child support. The father appealed, arguing the veteran’s benefits shouldn’t haven’t been included in his income because the veteran’s disability benefits are not insurance benefits, aren’t taxable, and federal law prohibits the inclusion. The court of appeals upheld the child support order. The court noted the broad statutory definition of income and that the statute didn’t specifically exclude veteran’s benefits. The nontaxable nature of the benefits made no difference as to their status as income for child support. Finally, the court found no language in USFSPA that prohibited including veteran’s benefits as income for child support. Caselaw in many other states support this interpretation of USFSPA.

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