A Guide to Child Support Enforcement Against Military Personnel
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I. Finding the Soldier

A. - Locating members of the Armed Forces can be difficult, and even more so without their Social Security number. Always try to get a Social Security number whenever you have any contact with military obligors and all putative fathers (they may join the military after you talk to them).

B. - The simplest location method involves the nearest resource. The local recruiter may be able to provide the memberís duty station if he/she enlisted locally within a year or so. The recruiterís cooperation may be encouraged as a matter of good public relations.

II. - Serving and Obtaining Evidence from the Soldier

A. - Basis for jurisdiction over members: domicile or state long-arm statutes, just as for civilians. Under general principles of law, members usually retain the domicile they held when they enlisted. You can proceed against a member of the Armed Forces in the same way you would against any other person located outside your state, and long-arm jurisdiction usually is best.

III. - Surviving the Soldiersí and Sailorsí Civil Relief Act

A. - Cite: 50 United States Code Appendix 500-548, 560-593 (1990 & Supp. 1993).

B. - In family law, there are several key provisions of the Act:

1. - Stay of Proceedings (50 U.S.C. app. 521). Purpose: to permit the delay of civil court proceedings where military service prevents a plaintiff or defendant in military service from asserting or protecting a legal right. If the court finds that there has been a material effect, the court MUST order a stay.

IV. - Settling Paternity Questions

A. - Essentially a civilian matter.

1. - The commanderís role is to advise a member of the paternity claim and refer him to counsel, to assist the member who acknowledges paternity, and to respond to the complainant.

2. - The commander has no authority to order a blood sample or to enforce compliance with a court order to submit a sample.

V. - Setting the Support Obligation

A. - Military pay: Ignore the complexities and set support amount based on total pay. See the current pay chart on the Internet at, dfas and request updates from local recruiters.

1. - Military compensation consists of basic pay and possibly Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence or Separate Rations (BAS or Sep Rats), special skill pay (flight pay, etc.), and bonuses (e.g., reenlistment bonuses).

VI. - Separating the Soldier from His Money: Support Enforcement

A. - Military support regulations.

1. - Cites: Army, 32 C.F.R. Part 584, Army Regulation 608-99, 1 Nov. 94; Navy/Marine Corps, 32 C.F.R. Part 733; Air Force, 32 C.F.R. Part 818.

2. - Regulations require members to pay support in accordance with support agreements and court orders. In the ab-sence of a court order or agreement, Army and Marine regulations criminalize the failure to pay support at a level generally equivalent to a memberís authorized BAH. All other services have established "guidelines" for use by the commander where there is no court order or support agreement.

VII. - Conclusion

A. - Military members can be required to provide support for their children, but first you have to locate them. Always get and keep Social Security numbers in your records.

A Guide to Child Support Enforcement Against Military Personnel
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