Military divorces are handled differently than civilian divorces. If you are divorcing someone who is serving in the military and you are the custodial parent, collecting a fair amount of child support can take some effort on your part. Here is what you need to know.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
The amount of child support that you are entitled to is determined by the home state that the military has listed for your spouse. The formula used can vary by state, so consult with your divorce attorney to find out what is considered a fair amount of support.
The state uses your spouse's net resources to make a determination of support. Your spouse's federal tax return will not provide you with the clear picture you need of his or her income. The military has certain allowances that service members are not required to report on income tax returns, which means you could miss out on support you are entitled to.
How Can You Find What Your Spouse Earns?
Ideally, your spouse would provide you with his or her Leave and Earning Statement, or LES. The LES is a comprehensive statement provided by the military that details every dollar that has been paid to a service member. Even if your spouse was not required to report certain allowances on his or her income taxes, they will be found on the LES.
If your spouse is unwilling to provide you with the LES statement, your divorce attorney can file for copies under the Freedom of Information Act. Your request has to go through the Department of Defense. You might have to pay a fee to receive the copies of the LES requested. Once you have them, simply provide them to the court so that your child support owed can be calculated.
What If Your Spouse Does Not Pay?
If your spouse does not make the payments ordered by the court, you can ask for his or her wages to be garnished. To request wage garnishment, you must provide a copy of your child support order to the Department of Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The agency will review the court order and begin garnishment.
Depending on your state's laws and the willingness of your spouse to cooperate, you might have to rely more on your divorce attorney to get the support you are owed. An experienced divorce lawyer is aware of the challenges that you could potentially face and can help you overcome those problems.