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Child, spousal support noncompliance: Garnishing of wages, punishment options

Were Here to Help
Email   Print   Share By Traci Holmes, Assistant Inspector General
March 3, 2011 | News
Jane Doe phones into the III Corps Inspector General’s office and says “Ma’am, I went to court yesterday and got a court order for child support including back support, but Pvt. John Doe has PCS orders to a new duty station. Is there any way to have the money taken directly out of his pay?”

Assistant Inspector Generals in the Inspector General office at Fort Hood frequently receive this question. The answer is “yes!” The Defense Finance and Accounting Services may deduct the payment from the Soldier’s (non-custodial parent) paycheck if monies are owed to the custodial parent (Mrs. Jane Doe) through a process called garnishment.

Garnishment is a method used to collect money that is owed. A garnishment order means DFAS can deduct the specific amount owed directly from the Soldier’s paycheck. Mrs. Doe must get a court order directing the Soldier to pay the stated amount of child support. Plus, she must obtain from the court an “income deduction order” or “income withholding order.”

This order will enable DFAS to subtract the money directly from the Soldier’s paycheck. However, if DFAS determines that the order does not comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, the garnishment will be delayed.

The income withholding order can be mailed or faxed (877-622-5930) to Defense Finance and Accounting Services at the following address: Defense Finance and Accounting Services – Cleveland, Attention: DFAS-HGA/CL, PO Box 998002, Cleveland, OH 44199-8002.

What about back support or arrears? Army Regulation 608-99, paragraph 2-5(c), states that a Soldier cannot fall into arrears without violating this regulation. Although the collection of arrearages based on violations may be enforced in court, there is no legal means to collect arrearages.

The Army requires all Soldiers to manage their personal affairs and pay their debts, but the Soldier cannot be ordered to pay support arrearages by the commander. However, a Soldier who falls into arrears may be punished under the provisions of Article 92 or 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice for failing to make the support payment required at the time that the support obligation was originally due.

Punishment in such instances is based on failure to provide financial support when due. Under Army Regulation 608-99, a Soldier must comply with all financial support provisions (i.e. spousal support) in court orders.

If the commander is made aware of the Soldier’s noncompliance with a court order, he or she has numerous options available to enforce the regulation. Those options may include bar to re-enlistment, nonjudicial punishment and administrative separation.

If the Soldier is unable to make his or her court-ordered child support or spousal support payment, they you must go back to court and get the amount modified.

Soldiers and family members can receive further guidance from the Fort Hood Legal Assistance Office at 287-7901.

For more information, contact either a civilian attorney or your local Attorney General’s office.

The Office of the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division can be contacted at, Post Office Box 12017, Austin, TX 78711-2548, or at 1-800-252-8014 or online at www.oag.state.tx.us/cs/index.shtml.
 
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