The divorce process does not happen overnight. The time you need to divide assets, establish a parenting plan, and determine financial support obligations can take months or longer. In many cases, you may separate from your spouse long before the divorce is final, which can initiate child support requirements. Your military child support obligations during the divorce process will depend on a couple of factors while you await final orders from a settlement agreement or state court.
Calculating Interim Military Child Support
Federal laws and individual service branch policies determine what child support obligations a military member will have while they wait for a final state court order. Like civilians, interim military child support will depend on your income level and the number of dependents you must support. The income of a military service member is often more than just their base income. The figure can include other compensation and benefits such as:
- Basic allowance for housing (BAH)
- Basic allowance for sustenance (BAS)
Each service branch has its own military family support chart or formula for calculating the amount you are obligated to provide your dependents until a court order is in place.For example, a member of the Navy will have minimum obligations of 1/2 of their gross pay for supporting a spouse and minor child. In comparison, a marine with a spouse and child would have a minimum requirement to pay 2/3 of BAH (1/3 for each family member). Additionally, you may be able to reduce the family support obligation with evidence of other support you provide to your spouse and kids (i.e. if the spouse and child are residing in government housing).
Family support, however, is not the same as child support. It is a way for the military branch to ensure the service member is providing financial support for their dependents after separation. This obligation only exists if there is not an agreement between the parties or a court order. If you are relying on an agreement, documentation is incredibly important. Once there is a court order in place, the order controls the obligations of the service member.
How Do You Make Payment Arrangements While Deployed?
You can generally work through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to set up a payment plan known as a voluntary allotment. This allotment directs the administration to deduct funds from your pay and reroute them via direct deposit to your spouse and children. However, the method of payment is ultimately left to the discretion of the military member.
What Happens When the Divorce Is Final?
An executed divorce settlement agreement or final court order will likely provide new terms for child support that you must follow. These terms will override the prior guidance and obligations for military family support that came from your service branch.
Contact Our Office for Help Navigating Divorce While in the Military
The divorce process can be more difficult for military members because they must follow the rules from their service branch in addition to the state and local rules where they live. Additionally, deployment or other training obligations may limit your ability to properly manage divorce affairs without local help. Working with an attorney experienced in both proceedings may help you understand your rights and duties while you work towards the resolution of your divorce.
Divorce Lawyers for Military has a network of attorneys throughout the state of Washington who offer quality legal representation to the members of our nation’s armed forces. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about your child support obligations or other questions about divorce as a service member.
Contact our office today to receive help calculating interim military child support or with other parts of your divorce.