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Separated spouses entitled to financial support from Soldier

Were Here to Help
Email   Print   Share By Col. Jerry Tait, III Corps Inspector General
March 5, 2009 | News
Daily in the III Corps and Fort Hood Inspector General’s office, we receive phone calls about the entitlements a spouse can receive if he or she is separated from a Soldier. Many believe the answer is the Basic Allowance for Housing.

The truth is, the amount of financial support a person receives depends on the variables that exist in the situation. The Army does have a regulatory standard to assist commanders when determining the amount a Soldier must provide for his or her spouse.

Army Regulation 608-99 (Family Support, Child Custody and Paternity) sets the Army’s policy on responsibilities and procedures for financial support.

The regulation also includes regulatory standards relating to child custody, visitation matters, paternity cases and compliance with court orders, as required by law to Family members of Soldiers. AR 608-99 ensures a Soldier’s Family receives proper care and financial support as required.

For example, if a Soldier is separated from his or her spouse, the full amount of Basic Allowance for Housing Type II would be paid to the spouse and children. Keep in mind that each situation can vary. Therefore, consult with the servicing staff judge advocate or inspector general for assistance for a particular situation.

The Army recognizes the transient nature of military duty. However, AR 608-99 prohibits the use of a Soldier’s military status or assignment as reason or cause to deny financial support to Family members. Soldiers must continue to support Family members as long as there is a legal obligation by marriage or custody and until there is a valid court order, written agreement, or proper relief from the chain of command as outlined in the regulation.

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario; Staff Sgt. John Doe and his wife, Jane, were separated in October 2008.

The next month Jane calls the Inspector General Office and requests assistance, reporting that the Soldier is not providing any financial support to his Family. The IG will then notify the Soldier’s commander to ensure AR 608-99 is properly applied. In this simple case, the Soldier pays the required BAH II rate of $872.10 – the 2009 BAH II rate for a staff sergeant in support of his Family.

Until a divorce decree terminating the marriage is provided, the Soldier is required to provide continuous financial support to his dependents. The Soldier and his wife have two children and the children reside with their mother.

The Soldier also has one child from a previous relationship without a child support court order. Under these circumstances, the Soldier’s BAH II would be divided four ways – between the three children and the wife.

The Soldier’s commander has to determine all the facts prior to determining the solution.

Let’s look at an example when the BAH II rate does not apply. When a Soldier and former spouse have a court ordered divorce decree from any state, the Soldier is obligated to pay according to the court order. If the court orders the Soldier to pay $1041.50 per month, the Soldier must pay that amount regardless of the BAH II rates.

The purpose of BAH II is to provide Soldiers with a housing allowance for their dependents. New BAH II rates were effective Jan. 1. If a Soldier is currently paying the 2008 BAH II rate to his or her separated spouse, the Soldier should consult the MyPay account or local finance office to make the necessary changes to that allotment. After consulting the 2009 BAH II rates, Soldiers should make the necessary adjustments in their payments whether made by check, money order or other means.

Adjusting support payments as required will help prevent unit chain of command or inspector general intervention.

Commanders and leaders must actively engage Soldiers to ensure they are meeting their obligations in accordance with AR 608-99 by conducting periodic counseling and promptly investigating requests for assistance from Family members.

Spouses who are not receiving full BAH II entitlement may contact unit Commanders. Commanders must then initiate immediate action to ensure the Soldier is in compliance with AR 608-99.

Commanders should inform Soldiers that failure to provide financial support is a violation of the regulation and such violations may be punishable under UCMJ.

For more information on Soldier Family support obligations, contact your local servicing Staff Judge Advocate or Inspector General Office. In the IG office we are here to help.
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