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Active military duty can create complexities for child support

If you’re divorced with kids and in the military reserves or National Guard, being called up for active duty can create complications for meeting your child-support obligations.

There are several issues to be aware of. First, the military considers it your duty to meet your support obligations. That means the military can potentially discipline you if you fail to do so. For example, it can reduce your rank, put you on extra duty or reduce your pay. You even can be subject to a court-martial for failure to obey an order if you’ve been ordered by your commanding officer to pay child support. Your pay also can be garnished.

This can become complicated when you’ve been working a civilian job and all of a sudden are on active duty and not getting a civilian paycheck. However, if you’re paying your support through withholdings from your paycheck, the child support enforcement division in many states can arrange to apply the withholdings to your military pay.

Additionally, your military pay may be less than your civilian pay. This reduced income while you’re on active duty could potentially justify modifying the amount of your obligation. You’d have to go to court and get a judge to agree, but the revenue department in your state may be able to help make this happen.

Finally, you should be aware that if you’re deployed overseas, you might need to get a passport. The government won’t issue you a passport (or renew an existing one) if you owe more than $2,500 in support, so you need to make sure you get any overdue support taken care of before you deploy.

These are just a few issues you need to consider. If you think you may be called to active duty, consult with a good family law attorney where you live to help you prepare.


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