Different Levels Of Child Support Guidelines


All of the services have different regulations, requiring different levels of support, and it doesn't have to be children. It can be dependents, including spouses. The Air Force regulation, when I was on active duty, required “reasonable support” to dependents. Typically, first sergeants, JAGs, and commanders determined that reasonable support was the difference between BAH (basic allowance for housing) with dependents and BAH without dependents. However, recently the Air Force has amended that regulation.

Now, there's a calculation that is very much in line with what the Army has always done, which requires much more overall support to dependents. One strategic thing that you want your military divorce lawyer to be tracking is what those specific regulations are when it comes to the payment and receipt of support. Oftentimes, in a brief marriage that does not have any children, it is to the spouse's benefit to drag out the divorce because they're going to get more support money under military regulations than they will under state law, once the divorce is final.

Will My Children Be Entitled To Military Benefits After A Divorce?

As long as your children are dependents and they are in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), they should still get military benefits. That's another strategic issue that you will want your lawyer to handle. Sometimes, it makes sense to keep kids in DEERS for the military member because you want the children to have the benefits provided by Tri-Care. Even after the divorce, your children can still get military benefits.

What Is A Leave And Earnings Statement?

When you're dealing with child support in a military family, you need someone who can read a leave and earnings statement (LES). If you don't have experience reading leave and earnings statements, they can be confusing. You want an attorney who knows how to request one, knows what they're looking at, and knows how to get documents from the Defense Financial Accounting Service (DFAS). You want someone who can determine exactly how much a military member is making because sometimes tax returns don't tell the whole story. If an attorney doesn't know that a promotion to O-6 comes with a significant pay increase, they're not going to be able to prove that substantial increase in income and get their client the corresponding increase in child support.

What Happens If My Military Ex-Spouse Refuses To Pay Child Support After Divorce?

If I'm representing a spouse and the military member has refused to pay child support, I know I can pretty much determine exactly how much he is supposed to be paying per military regulations prior to the divorce. Of course the divorce decree would indicate how much he should be paying after the divorce. If necessary I know how and when to go to the military member’s first sergeant, or to the commander, and let them know that this person is not paying what they need to pay. If your attorney doesn’t have that knowledge, you're going to have to go through the normal process of having to file something in family law court requesting an emergency hearing. However, there are regulations that require service members to reasonably support their spouse and dependents, even before the divorce is final. You will certainly want your military divorce lawyer to understand those regulations to get you the best possible results.

Can Custody Or Child Support Orders Be Modified?

Family law orders related to custody or child support are always modifiable. All you need to allege is a “material change in circumstances” in Alabama, and you can go back to court. Let’s take another example, Nancy is in the army and she deploys for a year and a half. She keeps getting extended on her deployments. She had been the primary caretaker prior to the deployment but the husband gets an agreement from her for him to be the sole physical custodian, meaning the children will live with him during the week. Visitation will be given to Nancy when she's back from deployment. Nancy, unfortunately, gets hit with an IED and loses her leg. She comes back on 100% disability but she's now able to be the primary caretaker again. At that point, there has been a material change in circumstances. Since Nancy is no longer serving in the military you would hope that her husband would agree to allow her to become the sole physical custodian or have a true joint legal custody arrangement. If he does not agree, Nancy could file for a modification of the child custody arrangement and she would plead the facts as outlined above. A judge would, hopefully, see it her way and give her more time with the kids. Of course, the controlling factor is always going to be the best interest of the children.

Another consideration you want your divorce lawyer tracking is how and when the “McClendon Standard” comes into effect after someone has been provided sole physical custody. If someone is given sole physical custody, the McClendon Standard is typically invoked and then a party will have a higher burden to prove that a change in custody will outweigh the inherent disruption of the children's stability and routine.

For more information on Different Levels Of Child Support Guidelines, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (256)533-8074 today.