Child Support or Spousal Support Ordered by Military?

Family support, including child support and spousal support, is the domain of the state courts, and a military court will not make orders regarding family support. However, the military has an interest in ensuring that military members provide adequate support for their dependents, and has enacted policies to ensure they do so.

The Navy policy, for example, states that “[t]he Navy will not act as a haven for personnel who disregard or evade obligations to their legal family members. All Service members must provide adequate and continuous support for their lawful family members and comply fully with the provisions of separation agreements and valid court orders.”

If a state court has ordered child or spousal support payments, the military will defer to those orders, and expect the military member to follow the court’s orders. If, however, support has not yet been ordered, the military will still expect the service member to support his or her dependents at an appropriate level. Each service has established its own guidelines for the level of support it has deemed appropriate.

The Navy’s support guidelines are contained in MILPERSMAN 1754-030:

“Gross pay” for purposes of this section includes basic pay and any basic allowance for housing (BAH) or overseas housing allowance (OHA) to which the service member is entitled, but does not include hazardous duty pay, sea or foreign duty pay, incentive pay, or basic allowance for subsistence (BAS).

When a commander receives a complaint alleging that an enlisted member is not supporting his or her lawful spouse and or children, the command must conduct written counseling of the service member and inform him or her of the Navy policy concerning support of family members. The service member must be informed that their Naval career may be in jeopardy if they do not take satisfactory action. The service member may become ineligible to reenlist or extend their enlistment, and/or may be subject to administrative or disciplinary action that may result in their separation from the Navy.

To ensure that appropriate actions are being taken by the military, and that adequate and reasonable support orders are made by the state court, contact a California family law attorney who is knowledgeable about military policy and how it interacts with state court orders.

If you have questions, please Contact Us for a free 30 minute consultation at 619-398-3468. We would be happy to help you.

Written by Jeanne Murray

Attorney Jeffrey P. Mach, Jr. is a Certified Family Law Specialist in the state of California. Mr. Mach is not a specialist in any other state.

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