How many businesses have regulations that parents are expected to support their kids? In the United States, the armed forces do. It’s policy that service members will be dutiful in providing for their children.
Failure to pay child support is considered dishonorable; the Navy states that it “will not be a haven or refuge for personnel who disregard or evade their obligations to their families.” Repercussions can include denial for reenlistment to the worst scenario of criminal charges under military code.
Divorce is considered by the military to be a civil matter and service members must file for divorce in state court, similar to civilians. The state court will issue a divorce decree specifying the amount of child support and custody arrangements based on state family law statutes. In Florida, there are established child support guidelines that consider the income of both parents, health insurance, child care costs and other needs of the child.
In determining the service member’s income, the courts look beyond “basic pay’’ that is based on rank and years of service. Other payments, some of which aren’t taxable like the basic allowance for housing (BAH), will increase total income and can be used in calculating child support.
There also are special pay categories that bump up total compensation, such as flight pay. All basic pay, incentives and allowances will be listed on the service member’s leave and earning statement.
Meanwhile, military branches also have formulated their own guidelines for interim child support that can be used in the absence of a written agreement or court order, such as before the divorce is finalized. The guidelines vary depending on the service branch; examples are these from the Marine Corps and the Army.
Because military divorce can be complex, it’s always advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney.