Military child support guidelines
Special rules apply to military members in child support matters. Each of the services has its own guidelines for determining the interim child support amount that a non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent in the absence of a state court order or an agreement among the parties. Failure to pay child support can result in serious punishment for the military member if a complaint for non-support is substantiated by the military member’s command.
The child support guidelines established by the military service branches are fairly straight-forward and generally require the service member to surrender a certain percentage of his BAH (Housing Allowance) to the custodial parent of his child. In the Marine Corps, for example, the formula operates to essentially split the Marine's BAH subsidy evenly among himself and each of his legal dependents. So, if the Marine has only one dependent, e.g., a child living with the Marine's former spouse, the Marine will be required to surrender half of his BAH to his former spouse for the support of his child. (The result would be the same regardless of whether or not the Marine was ever married to the non-custodial parent. The key determination is parentage and not past or present marital status. The guidelines do not establish spousal support).
Unlike many state child support laws, including the D.C. child support guidelines, the child support amount awarded under the Marine Corps' interim child support guidelines is not income-based. The Marine could have additional income outside of his military pay and this would not affect the calculation. Similarly, the noncustodial parent could have substantially more income than the Marine, and the Marine would still be required by the military guideline to surrender half of his BAH to the custodial parent. A service member who is paying child support is entitled to receive an enhanced housing allowance, referred to has "BAH with Dependents," even if his only dependent is the child for whom he does not have custody. In this situation, the military is increasing the service member's subsidy, and then the support guidelines are requiring him to surrender a portion of that enhanced amount to the noncustodial parent of his child. If the Marine in our example re-marries and has another child, the guideline will reduce the amount of support owed to the former spouse so that the Marine's new dependents -- his spouse and new child -- receive an equal share of the Marine's BAH as well. In this example, the BAH amount will be split four ways, so that the Marine and each of his three dependents receive 25% of his BAH. Thus, the Marine will now keep 75% of his BAH and will surrender 25% for the support of his first child.
If you are a military service member or spouse, it is important to recognize the limitations of the military child support guidelines. Foremost, because the guidelines are not income-based, they may not operate equitably in situations where one or both of the parties has substantial income outside of of the non-custodial parent's military pay. Also, unlike the DC child support guidelines, the military guidelines do not account for situations where the Marine and his ex-spouse have shared physical custody of the child. The military guidelines do not address this scenario at all. Finally, the military guidelines were intended as interim support guidelines to fill the gap before parties could reach an agreement or obtain a state court order establishing child support. Once an agreement or state court order is in place, the military guidelines are no longer relevant.
How is military income calculated under the DC Child Support Guidelines?
Another issue that can be complicated in military child support cases is calculating military income. The DC child support guidelines are based upon the combined gross income of the parents (minus amounts each respective parent pays for health care premiums, child care expenses, and support for other children who are not the subject of the child support order at issue). This calculation includes income from all sources. Military pay is unique in that it includes base pay plus several allowances, such as the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), which are non-taxable and will not be reflected on the service member’s tax return. There could also be other special pay depending on the service member’s particular assignment or duties. All of this pay should be considered in the child support calculation. The service member’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), which is the pay-stub that reflects his or her bi-monthly pay will reflect all of these payments. If the military spouse is unwilling to share his or her LES, the non-military parent’s child support attorney can seek the information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Military Child Support Attorney in Washington DC
If you are a current or former military service member or military spouse and you are involved in a child support matter in Washington DC, you will need an experienced Washington DC child support attorney who has a complete understanding of the special rules and circumstances that apply to military families in this area of law. Call DC military child support attorney Karen Shinskie today at 202.627.6918, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no obligation consultation. As both a military spouse and an experienced child support attorney, Karen Shinskie is thoroughly familiar with the special rules and circumstances that will influence your case, and she is uniquely positioned to protect your interests in your military child support case.
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