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How does the military get involved in child support?

If you have a child with a military service member or veteran, it's important to know that there are federal laws regarding their obligation to pay child support that has been ordered by a court or which they've agreed to pay in a signed legal agreement with their co-parent. These regulations aren't meant to conflict with or override state child support statutes but to help ensure that these parents abide by any support agreements.

If no court order or legal agreement is yet in place, the military provides guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of child support in the interim. The amount determined under the military guidelines is often lower than if the relevant state guidelines were used. State guidelines give no special consideration to service members and vets. They're primarily based on a parent's income.

The military's guidelines for interim support are also based largely on a person's military pay. The pay amount used may include their housing and other allowances. The specific calculations may vary depending on which branch of the military the parent belongs to. The military's child support requirements aren't determined or influenced by whether the military parent has any custodial rights over a child or whether they were ever married to the child's other parent.

The military doesn't get involved in how child support payments are made. That's determined by the two parents. However, the military does have systems in place to help military parents make their child support payments. They can set up automatic withdrawals from their paycheck through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). This can come in handy if a service member is deployed overseas.

If you don't yet have a child support order or agreement in place and your co-parent is a current or retired member of the U.S. military, it's important to know what the military has determined their interim child support obligations to be. If you're having issues collecting the child support you're due, it's worth finding out what steps are available through your co-parent's branch of the military or other avenues for getting that support. Your attorney can provide valuable guidance and assistance.

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