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What should military members know about child support?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2023 | Military Divorce

Members of the military are required to care for their children, even if they divorce the child’s other parent. There are some specific considerations for child support when one parent is in the military.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act governs the enforcement of child support orders across state lines. The UIFSA ensures that only one valid support order is in effect at a time, and it provides guidelines for modifying and enforcing child support orders across jurisdictions. This is particularly relevant for military members who may be stationed in different states or countries.

Garnishment and Wage Withholding

Military members are subject to income withholding for child support payments, just like civilians. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service can directly withhold child support from the service member’s pay and forward the payment to the appropriate state child support enforcement agency. A valid court order or administrative order must be in place for DFAS to withhold wages.

Servicemembers Group Life Insurance

Some jurisdictions may require military members to maintain life insurance policies with their children named as beneficiaries to ensure continued financial support in the event of the service member’s death.


Children of military service members can remain eligible for TRICARE coverage as long as they meet the criteria for dependent status, regardless of which parent has primary custody. The non-military parent can take the children to TRICARE-authorized providers for medical care, even if the military parent is not present. Courts may take TRICARE coverage into account when determining child support orders, as it impacts the overall financial responsibility of each parent.

State Guidelines

Each state has its guidelines and formulas for calculating child support, considering factors such as each parent’s income, the number of children and the custody arrangement. These guidelines may differ for military members, particularly when it comes to the inclusion of allowances and special pay. Typically, the jurisdiction responsible for overseeing child support orders is where the child resides. This means the service member should learn about the specific guidelines in that location. Working with someone familiar with that jurisdiction is beneficial.