|June 27, 2012|
Previously published on Summer 2012
Child Support Calculations when one parent is a military service member are complex. BAH/BAS, Base Housing, and Hazard Pay may or may not be included in the child support guidelines, leading to a wide array of potential support payments for the military member. This article discusses how Florida analyzes child support for the military member.
A military husband or father’s income includes both regular taxable income and basic “allowances”, also known as BAH/BAS. These basic allowances are non-taxable by the Federal Government. Military fathers routinely mistakenly believe that because the BAH/BAS is non-taxable, that it is also not attachable for purposes of child support. In Florida, this is not the case.
Florida Courts consider BAH & BAS as "in kind reimbursement" for living expenses. Accordingly the entire BAH/BAS income is imputed in child support calculations and will be included by the non-military spouse in his or her proposed child support calculations to the Judge.
On Base Housing Instead of BAH/BAS?
Does the military spouse accuse a benefit if they opt for on-base housing instead? It depends. Maybe not. The military spouse will argue that his income is only the taxable income reported on his W-2. The nonmilitary spouse however may take the position that the military housing is also "in-kind" distributions received that must be imputed in child support calculations. Proper advocacy by the family law attorney is essential to keep the child support calculations reasonable for the military spouse.
Caveat: Be careful with BAH/BAS. An unjust result would occur for the military spouse member if the Court calculated his income based on the BAH & BAS, and then the spouse lost his in-kind income after the divorce! Depending on the length of timesharing with the minor child, the divorce attorney for the military spouse will want to remove the BAH/BAS entirely from the calculations, or insure the marital settlement agreement has sufficient language so that the Department of Defense continues to pay BAH/BAS to the military father after the divorce.
More frustrating to the military spouse is the possibility that his Hazard pay is attachable for child support purposes. Hazard pay includes a flat bonus and no federal taxes on income. An aggressive non-military spouse will ask the Judge to impute hazard pay into the child support guidelines.
This can lead to both an excessively high child support payment while the spouse is deployed, and the potential for an even more excessive support payment when deployment ends. A modification of child support requires a substantial and material change in income at a later date. The military spouse needs to be wary of getting stuck paying child support based on hazard pay with the possibility of no modification after deployment ends.
A military divorce attorney for the military spouse should argue that the hazard pay is definite and length and non-recurring in nature. Winning on this issue could keep the military member from paying an unreasonable amount of child support.
To read more from Christian Denmon a Tampa Military Divorce Attorney, on child support calculations and military divorce, follow the link here: http://www.tampa-divorce-attorney.com