A military divorce is a process that’s in many ways unique from its civilian counterpart. As a service member is not an average citizen, the terms need to be tailored to the challenges of military life for all those involved. For families that find themselves dealing with the aftermath of a military divorce, the issue of child support is also, in some ways, distinct from civilian guidelines.
As with many aspects of life in the military, branches will typically ask service members to go above and beyond when fulfilling their child support duties. Since this is atypical of civilian requirements, it’s important to understand some of the nuances of paying child support for a divorced service member.
If interim child support payments are needed
If the court has not yet finalized a child support order, but the non-military parent requires payment, they can turn to the military parent’s commanding officer. This officer can then determine if the parent should make interim payments, and if so, order them to pay.
Different military branches have their own regulations and methods for determining interim child support payments. Typically, they will apply a formula that accounts for the service member’s gross pay and housing costs. These interim payments can continue until a judge finalizes the support order.
The obligation for a service member to pay child support
Service members can pay their child support in the manner they see fit. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) allows military parents to deduct a certain allotment from their pay, but it is not required.
Should a service member fail to pay, their commanding officer can impose a variety of punishments. If the non-military parent submits copies of the court order, as well as any other pertinent evidence, the officer can make a determination and act accordingly. They cannot, however, force the military parent to pay.
The range of punishment for delinquent military parents can vary. Their failure to pay child support could result in a reduction in rank or pay, extra duty rounds, discharge or other consequences. In the state of Alabama, they could also be susceptible to wage garnishment by the DFAS.
As military child support can be a complex matter, experienced legal counsel can be beneficial when navigating the process.