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How does housing allowance and child support work?

The military housing allowance, now called the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), is nontaxable allowance paid to service members who do not live in government housing. Service members also receive a BAH if they are separated from their immediate family members.

Housing allowance is different for all ranks. The BAH varies with the rank or grade of the service member. Higher ranks receive a larger allowance. Also, the BAH rises if the service member has any dependents.

Let’s say, for example, that a civilian ex-wife is trying to work out child support with her ex-husband who is in the Army and maintains he cannot afford much since he gets a housing allowance.

The military has regulations establishing interim child support guidelines. These guidelines specify that the member of the military must provide support to dependent children in an amount equal to his full housing for allowance at what is called the “with dependent” rate. This information can be easily obtained.

These interim support guidelines work best as a temporary measure, until the civilian spouse can obtain a court order.