CHILD SUPPORT AND THE MILITARY
In Tennessee, each parent is responsible for financially supporting their children. Child support in Tennessee is generally based on each parent’s relative income and the comparative amount of time each parent spends with the children. Other factors such as daycare expenses and health insurance premiums also affect the amount of child support one parent will pay to the other parent. When one parent is in the military, it can be difficult to calculate income and to determine parenting time for the service member.
Military Interim Child Support Orders and State Wage Assignments
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In addition to Tennessee’s requirement that each parent support their children, the military requires service members to provide support to dependents. In fact, the military has regulations that establish interim child support to dependent children in an amount equal to the service member's full housing for allowance at the “with dependent” rate.
Interim support should only be considered a temporary measure to be used until the civilian spouse can obtain a support order from a state court. Prior to the issuance of a state child support order, the service member's company or unit commander is vested with the responsibility for enforcing interim child support.
Once the state court’s child support order is issued, the service member's pay can be garnished by wage assignment. Wage assignments are orders from the court for the wages of the parent paying child support to be sent directly from the employer to the state for distribution to the parent receiving child support. In the military, this is done by sending the wage assignment order to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). DFAS will then deduct the child support directly from the service member’s pay and send the amount to the state.
Attorneys Experienced in Handling Military Child
Because of the complexity of military paychecks, determining a service member's actual income can be difficult. An experienced military divorce and child support attorney should be familiar with the Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) that contains all the information necessary to determine income for child support purposes.
All states now have child support guidelines used to calculate child support. Tennessee has comprehensive child support guidelines that are used by every court across the state in determining child support. Tennessee’s child support guidelines define income as all money received from any source, before taxes, whether earned or unearned. It includes a service member's Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), Variable Housing Allowance (VHA) as well as pay differentials for hazardous assignments and other variations in responsibilities. Even “in-kind” remuneration for things such as housing, meals, and other nonmonetary compensation are included in income for child support purposes even though they may not be included in income for tax purposes.
Contact a Military Child Support Attorney
At Richter Family Law Group, P.C., we have the experience necessary to help you navigate the complex area of child support involving military service members. Call us toll-free at 1-800-555-1212 for a free initial consultation. We have offices throughout the state of Tennessee.