Child Support and the Military

Enforcement of child support with respect to active military personnel is different than that of enforcement of civilian child support. First and foremost, locating the military individual can be difficult.

Locating the Military Parent and Service of Process

When a parent is on active service it may be difficult to locate their whereabouts. One could contact the local armed services recruiting office, a former unit office, or the World Wide Military Locator Services to assist in locating the parent. When looking for the military parent it is necessary to know their full name and social security number. Once the parent is located, they will need to be served with a divorce complaint. In most states, one can serve the parent by way of the U.S. postal service. Some states do require certified or registered service of the complaint.

Determining Child Support

Military duty cannot be used as a method for avoiding family or child support obligations. However, the determination of the amount of support is considered a civilian matter. Each state has different child support guidelines to determine the amount of support that the custodial parent is entitled to receive. The military parent's pay and allowances are considered in the determination of child support. Because military pay is not taxed, state guidelines based upon gross pay may have to be adjusted upward in order to provide a more equitable award for the custodial parent.

Collecting Child Support

The collection of child support from the military parent is governed by military rules. The military rules generally require that the military parent pay child support as ordered by the court. Some branches of the military actually make it a crime if the military parent fails to honor their support obligation. The military parent could comply with their support obligation by way of voluntary allotment, paying the obligation, involuntary allotment, or by garnishment.

Miscellaneous Information

  • Military personnel are not protected from U.S. court proceedings establishing child support obligations.

  • Treaties with other nations may provide a custodial parent with the opportunity to work with foreign offices to pursue their child support matter.

  • Child support obligations are determined based upon the military parent's total compensation and benefits, as well as by other state specific guidelines.

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