Ex-Wife Wants to Know If He's Cheating Their Kids Out of Benefits

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am the primary caregiver for my children and the information that I need is for their benefit.

I was married to my ex-husband for 16 years, and we have three children together. After 10 years of marriage, I found out that he had had an affair and we separated for about six months. Then, after he got out of the Navy, we reconciled and had our third child.

After our third child was born, I found out that he'd had other affairs, so we started the divorce procedure. While we were going through the divorce, he took a part-time job making just $10 an hour and so I was initially awarded only $73 a month in child support for our three children. I lost my home and had to move to another state so I could make more money to support my children.

I moved to Virginia, and we went back to court. He was not working again, and this time I was awarded only $400 in child support each month because he was receiving $895 in disability from the Navy. This amount was supposed to be adjusted after he secured employment, which he was supposed to report.

It's been a year and a half, and he still has not reported that he is working. My questions are: If he is receiving disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs, how can I find out what he is being awarded each month so that I can put that amount into the child support calculation? Are my children eligible to receive disability benefits as well from the VA?

My ex-husband is currently going to school with his GI Bill and I understand that through that program he is receiving a stipend for himself plus dependents, even though the children do not live with him. Can my children receive child support from that money? Where can I find income or retirement benefit information for my ex-husband? He was active duty for 20 years, but he claims that he did not get retirement benefits because he was passed up for promotion to lieutenant commander.

I can provide more information if you need it. Can you help me?

-- Melanie

Dear Melanie,

I don't want to give you incorrect information. However, if your ex-husband is receiving additional money for his dependent children, I would think they would be entitled to it. Two things I would recommend to you: Visit an attorney and look over your divorce decree. Your husband has to pay what was in the court order. If you discuss your new knowledge about your husband with your attorney, he or she will be able to give you legal advice.

Secondly, I can't tell you how you can get information about your ex-husband's VA disability benefits, but I would encourage you to contact the VA at www.va.gov or by phone at 1-800-827-1000 and ask them questions about your children's entitlements. I wish I could give you more information.

Thank you for writing me. Keep in touch when you can.

-- Ms. Vicki

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