A father’s child support obligations could be reduced by the amount of his Social Security Disability Insurance payments that went directly to his children, the Vermont Supreme Court recently decided.

The father had been ordered to pay $326 a month in child support when he and his wife divorced. Soon afterward, he went to prison for five years.

When he got out of prison, he applied for SSDI benefits. He received a retroactive payment that included more than $14,000 that went directly to his ex-wife on his children’s behalf.

The father argued that his child support obligations should be reduced by the amount of this payment to his children.

The court agreed, saying the payment replaced wages that would otherwise have gone toward child support, and if the father didn’t receive an offset for that amount, the mother would have an unfair windfall.

Most state courts that have decided this issue have ruled the same way, although some disagree.