Can a spouse on active duty be sued for spousal support?

Yes, he or she can be sued for spousal support while on active duty. Like child support, military service does not exempt a person from spousal support.

However, disputes between spouses may be affected by the SCRA, which protects an active duty member of the armed forces from civil suit. SCRA may permit a service person to argue that he or she support action against him or her should be stayed because his or her military duties prohibit him or her from mounting a defense. As mentioned above, SCRA does not confer immunity from suits, including spousal support, but it may be used to suspend or extend time periods, or statutes of limitations affecting the civil actions. A trial court can stay (or hold off) the litigation if a spouse’s military service would have a material effect on his or her ability to defend the litigation in this case, the spousal support action. However, as mentioned, the court can also deny relief if a spouse’s military duty has no material effect on his or her ability to defend the litigation.

Courts do not tolerate using SCRA to avoid or evade spousal support. Unless support is court ordered, however, the military does not have the ability to force a service member to pay it.