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  1. I. How do you get support?  
  2. II. Is support calculated the same for each branch?  

As a military spouse, have you ever wondered if you are able to get support prior to a Court order or even a case being filed? The answer is yes. There are several factors that involve whether you get support and how much, such as do you have dependents, do you live together, are you also a military member, etc.

How do you get support?

You will need to contact their Commanding Officer to indicate the Military member is not supporting you and/or your children. Some branches will require you to file a complaint of non-support of a service member’s family.

Is support calculated the same for each branch?

No. Although there may be a lot of similarities, support in terms of how it is calculated, the amount and any circumstances surrounding if they can adjust the recommended amount of support varies by each branch.

A. Marines

A complaint shall be made to the commanding officer of the service member. If a Marine receives a complaint for inadequate support, he shall immediately forward it to his commanding officer. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the commanding officer will meet with the Marine and take appropriate action within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. The Commanders follow LegalAdmin Chapter 15.

Without a Court order or a written agreement, support shall be the greater of the fixed amount of support, reflected in the center column of the chart below, or the pro-rata share of whatever BAH or OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance) to which the Marine is currently entitled.

The BAH that is credited to the Marine for government housing, but is not actually paid in cash, is not counted.

The total amount of support required shall not exceed 1/3 of the Marine’s gross military pay per month. Gross pay is the total of all military pay and allowances before taxes or any other deductions.

Total Number of Family Members Entitled to Support

Minimum Amount of Monthly Support per Requesting Family Member

Share of Monthly BAH/OHA per requesting family member

1

$350

1/2

2

$286

1/3

3

$233

1/4

4

$200

1/5

5

$174

1/6

6 or more

$152

1/7 or etc

The total family members entitled to receive support are the complaining family member(s) and all other family members as defined in paragraph 15001.5 that a Marine is supporting under court order, written agreement, or order under this chapter (not party to the complaint of non-support) and minor biological or adopted children that reside with the Marine whom the Marine is supporting.

Can a Marine request their Commanding Officer deviate from the amount of spousal support?

Yes. If the facts are consistent with one of the reasons as set forth in paragraph 15005.4. The Commanding Officer must consult with the appropriate staff Judge advocate. Support for a minor child shall not be decreased, except for situations as described in section 15005.4d.

What are the situations that would warrant a reduction or elimination?

  1. 1. The gross income of the spouse exceeds the gross military party of the Marine (including allowances).  *
  2. 2. Interim financial support has been provided to the spouse for 12 consecutive months.  A commanding officer may reduce or eliminate the interim financial support to a spouse if *:

    1. a. The parties have been separated for 12 months or longer and
    2. b. The Marine has made the financial support required for the entire 12 months (including where the Marine has voluntarily complied with this chapter in the absence of a complaint for support) and
    3. c. The Marine has not acted in any manner to avoid service of process or otherwise to prevent a court from ruling on the issue of support.
  3. 3. The Marine has been the victim of a substantiated instance of abuse by the spouse seeking support. *
  4. 4. The Marine is paying regular and recurring obligations (such as rent or debts) of the family members requesting support or sufficient magnitude and duration to justify a reduction or elimination of support specified herein.  If the commanding officer elects to give credit for payments, they should be limited to the extent that such payments do not benefit the Marine.

    *This does not relieve the Marine from providing financial support for his or her adopted or biological minor children.

    Example:  If a Marine is paying support for a child from a previous marriage and the current spouse requests support under this chapter, there are two family members in need of support and the Marine should be ordered to pay the spouse $286 or 1/3 of his BAH, whichever is greater (no more than 1/3 of his gross pay).

    Chapter 15 can be found here:

    https://www.marines.mil/Portals/1/MCO%20P5800.16A%20W%20CH%201-7.pdf

    B. Army

    The following is the recommended support, absent a Court order or financial support agreement.

    To determine the pro-rata share = (1÷ Total number of supported family members) x applicable BAH RC/T – WTH rate

    *BAH RC/T stands for BAH Reserve component/transient. This may also be referred to as BAH Reserve, BAH transit, BAH type II or BAH non-locality.

    The total number of supported family members includes all family members (regardless of residence) except:

    1. 1. A Soldier’s former spouse, regardless if they are providing financial support to their former spouse.
    2. 2. A Soldier’s present spouse who is on active duty, unless financial support is required per a Court order or a written financial support agreement.
    3. 3. A family member for whom the Soldier is not required to provide financial support under this regulation or for whom the Soldier has been released by their commander from their requirement.

    Single Family Units – not residing in government family housing

    When the family is not residing in government family housing, the soldier will provide financial support in an amount equal to the Soldier’s BAH RC/T-WITH to the family unit. There are exceptions set forth in paragraphs 2-6d(1)(a), 2-6(1)(b) and 2-6d(1)(c).

    When the Soldier stationed overseas receives BAH solely on behalf of unaccompanied Family members who reside in the United States, the actual BAH paid to the Soldier on behalf of those dependents will be used to calculate the support requirement for those dependents, if it is greater than the BAH RC/T–WITH rate.

    If one family member has a Court order for support but the others do not, the remaining family members will be provided a pro-rata share of the BAH RC/T-WITH. This will be paid even if they reside with the family member who has a court order or even if the court order amount is in excess of BAH RC/T-WITH.

    If a soldier has been released by their commander to provide financial support to one or more dependents of the family unit, the amount of support required will be reduced by the pro-rata share of each family member whom the soldier has been released from supporting.

    Single Family Units – residing in government family housing

    While the Soldier’s family members are residing in government family housing, the Soldier is not required to provide additional financial support unless required by enhanced interim support for spouses. When the supported family members) move(s) out of the government family housing, the Soldier will be required to provide BAH RC/T-WITH.

    If family members in the family unit are residing at different locations, the Soldier will provide a pro-rata share of the BAH RC/T-WITH to each family member not residing in government family housing.  

    If the Soldier is married to another person on active duty in one of the military services, with regard to a Soldier’s child or children (from that marriage or prior), a Soldier will provide the following financial support in the absence of a written agreement or Court order:

      1. 1. If the Soldier does not have custody of any children and the children do not reside in government housing, the Soldier will provide BAH-DIFF to the military member who has custody of the child/children.
      2. 2. If the Soldier does not have custody of any children and the children reside in government quarters, the Soldier is not required to provide financial support to the military member having custody of the child/children.
      3. 3. If the Soldier has custody of one or more children, the Soldier is not required to provide financial support for a child or the children in the custody of the custody of another member of the military.

    Multiple Family Units

    A Soldier will provide financial support for each family unit and family member in the following:

    1. 1. Family members covered by Court orders will be provided support according to the terms of the Court order.
    2. 2. Family members covered by financial support agreements will be provided support in accordance with those agreements.
    3. 3. Family members residing in government housing who are not covered by a Court order or financial support agreement will not be provided additional financial support unless enhanced interim financial support for spouses is required.
    4. 4. Each financial member not residing in government family housing and who is not covered by a court order or financial support agreement will be provided a pro-rata share of BAH RC/T-WITH. When a soldier stationed overseas receives BAH solely on behalf of unaccompanied family members who reside in the United States, the actual amount of BAH paid to the soldier on behalf of those dependents will be used to calculate the support requirement for those dependents, I it is greater than their pro-rata share of BAH RC/T-WITH.
    5. 5. If the Soldier’s present spouse is on active duty in one of the military branches, the requirements of paragraph 2-6(d) apply (Soldier married to another person on active duty in one of the military services).

    Enhanced interim financial support for spouses

    This is temporary and is designed to provide for sustenance and additional necessary expenses that initially arise when the Soldier and spouse separate, or when the time to obtain a Court order is prolonged due to a lack of access to appropriate Courts of competent jurisdiction.    This will be provided to the spouse in addition to the interim support required. Enhanced interim financial support will not be made to spouses who are Servicemembers of any component while serving on active duty.

    These payments will be made in an amount equal to 25% of the BAH RC/T-WITH for the following:

    1. 1. For those spouses residing in a location subject to the jurisdiction of a state court able to order financial support, the Soldier will make a one-time transitional payment in conjunction with the first 30 days of interim support as set forth above.  If the Soldier fails to make this one-time payment when due, the Soldier’s commander is authorized to order the Soldier to make this payment when the command becomes aware of the deficiency.  
    2. 2. For all other spouses, the Soldier will make this enhanced interim support payment for the period of time the Soldier is providing support as set forth above, and the spouse does not have to access a state court with jurisdiction to order spousal support.
    3. 3. Soldiers may not satisfy enhanced interim support by directly paying on-government housing expenses on behalf of spouses or by any other in-kind financial support without the written approval of the supported spouse.
    4. 4. Support will only apply to a 30-day period for those spouses residing in a location subject to the jurisdiction of a state court able to order financial support.  The spouse can elect to receive two proportional payments over two months or one lump sum on the first of the month.

    Allegations or even proof of desertion, adultery, or other marital misconduct or criminal acts on the part of a spouse will not excuse a Soldier’s obligation to comply with their support obligation, unless a Battalion-level commander or higher has released the Soldier (paragraph 2-12 to 2-14).  

    https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN30639-AR_608-99-000-WEB-1.pdf

    A. Navy

    Where the amount of support has not been ordered by a Court or mutual agreement, the below chart may be used as a guide until such time as a mutual agreement is reached or a court order is obtained. This is only an interim measure. The below chart is not intended to be used as a basis for any judicial proceeding.

    Number of Family Members

    Amount of Support to be provided

    Spouse only

    1/3 gross pay

    Spouse and one minor child

    1/2 gross pay

    Spouse and two or more minor children

    3/5 gross pay*

    One minor child

    1/6 gross pay

    Two minor children

    1/4 gross pay

    Three minor children

    1/3 gross pay

    *Only if family members are in the same household.

    Gross pay includes basic pay and any basic allowance for housing (BAH) or overseas housing allowance (OHA) to which the Servicemember is entitled. For OHA, the command may take into consideration high housing costs that are directly reimbursed but create an inequitable ratio and adjust the amount equal to what BAH would be where the receiving party lives to use that amount as part of the gross pay to make the above calculation.

    Gross pay does not include hazardous duty pay, sea or foreign duty pay, incentive pay, or basic allowance for subsistence (BAS).

    This chart may be referred to only as a basic instrument/means for determining the amount of support to be provided for a complaining family member.

    If a Servicemember has a spouse and four or more children, the Servicemember should be advised of his/her moral obligation to contribute more than 3/5 of their gross pay.

    What if a spouse deserts the Servicemember?

    The duty of a Servicemember to support their minor children is not affected by desertion or other misconduct on the part of the spouse.

    The obligation to support their children is not affected by the dissolution of the marriage through divorce unless the judicial decree or order specifically negates the obligation of either person to support a child/children of the marriage.  If the decree is silent, that does not relieve a Servicemember of their duty.  

    The Milpersamn 1754-030 may be found here:

    https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Portals/55/Reference/MILPERSMAN/1000/1700Morale/1754-030.pdf

    B. Air Force

    The Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 36-29 sets forth support for members of the Navy.
    When there is no Court order or written support agreement, Military members shall provide support on a pro-rata basis, until an order is issued or agreement reached.

    To determine the pro-rata share = (1÷ Total number of supported family members) x applicable BAH – with dependent (non-locality) rate

    The total number of supported family members includes all family members, regardless of residence, except the military member and the following:

    1. 1. A Military member’s former spouse, regardless of whether the member is providing financial support to the former spouse.
    2. 2. A family member to whom the military member is not required to provide financial support under this guide or from whom the military member has been released by his or her squadron commander of the requirement to provide financial support.  

    A Squadron commander may release a member under his/her command from the requirement to provide support only in the following:

    1. 1. An order issued by a Court without jurisdiction and the member, with regard to those supported family members, at all times has been complying with any of the following:   1) the financial support provisions of another court order, 2) the financial support provisions of a written financial support agreement or 3) the financial support provisions in section 4.1.

    If the income of the member’s spouse exceeds the military pay of the member, the Squadron Commander is authorized to release a member from the requirement to provide financial support to his/her spouse, but not from the requirement to provide financial support to the children of that marriage.  A Squadron Commander is not authorized to release a member from their duty to provide support as set forth in a Court order or written financial support agreement.  The member may only be released if the monthly income of the supported spouse exceeds the monthly military pay of the member and the member is not receiving BAH with dependents (non-locality) rate solely on the basis of providing financial support to that spouse or agrees to terminate allowances effective upon the date released from the support obligation.  

    For further information, please see the following:

    https://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a1/publication/dafi36-2906/dafi36-2906.pdf

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    Disclaimer

    Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue, you should consult an attorney.