As a former military JAG Officer, Mr. Ryan is intimately familiar with family support and other issues unique to service members and their spouses.
Each of the military services in Hawaii has its own regulations requiring its service members to support family members upon separation, in the absence of an agreement or court order. Note that they are stop-gap measures, and depending upon their circumstances (such as “fault”, income levels or number of children), either the service member or civilian spouse may be better off seeking a court order for temporary support and maintenance. In the event of nonsupport, the spouse seeking support can request assistance from the service member’s commander, and if that does not work, the local JAG office or Inspector General. But unlike court-ordered support, military family support cannot be garnished, nor can a commander actually divert a service member’s pay to the spouse. However, a service member who fails to pay could be punished under Article 92, UCMJ for violation of a lawful general regulation, and DFAS may recoup any BAH received for dependents the service member was not actually supporting. Following is a summary of the various service regulations.
Hawaii Army Family Support
Army Regulation 608-99, Family Support, Child Custody & Paternity requires soldiers to pay temporary support depending upon the family situation. All payments are based upon BAH-II, which was formerly known as BAQ, and is the housing allowance without the locality allowance, found on page 2 of the military pay chart. Paragraph 2-6 sets out the following support requirements in the absence of a court order:
- Civilian spouse/children not in military housing: BAH-II at the with-dependents rate.
- Civilian or military spouse/children in military housing: None.
- Civilian spouse/children not in military housing living at different locations: Pro rata share of BAH-II at the with-dependents rate to each family member.
- Military spouse, no children: None
- Military spouse, split custody of children: None.
- Military spouse, spouse has children: Difference between BAH-II at the with-dependents rate and the without-dependents rate.
In-kind payments (such as buying groceries or paying bills) do not count towards the support obligation, except that if the soldier is on the lease or mortgage where the family lives, the soldier can pay the lease/mortgage and utilities, and offset those payments against the support obligation. Para. 2-9(d).
Relief from Payment
Per Para. 2-14, a battalion/squadron commander, may relieve the soldier of the support obligation under the following circumstances:
- Civilian spouse has a higher income
- Soldier was the victim of substantial abuse by the spouse, which was substantiated by the Family Advocacy Case Management Team or a court
- The family member is in jail
- The soldier has paid the required support to the spouse for 18 months
- The soldier is the legal custodian of the child for whom support is sought, and that child is living with someone else without that soldier’s consent.
If the couple’s children are living with the spouse, the soldier must still pay support, despite otherwise qualifying for relief from payment. Finally, infidelity or abandonment is NOT grounds for relief.
Hawaii Navy Family Support
MILPERSMAN 1754-030, Chapter 15, Support of Family Members, provides a guide for family support in the absence of an agreement or court order. Para. 4.a. The obligation is expressed as a fraction of the sailor’s “gross pay” (defined as base pay plus BAH, if entitled, but excludes all other allowances, such as BAS, hostile fire pay, etc).
- Spouse only: 1/3
- Spouse & 1 minor child: 1/2
- Spouse & 2 or more children: 3/5
- 1 minor child: 1/6
- 2 minor children: 1/4
- 3 minor children: 1/3
Waiver of Obligation
Only the Director, Dependency Claims, Navy Military Pay Operations, at DFAS, may grant a waiver. Pursuant to para. 5.b, the grounds for a waiver are:
- Desertion without cause
- Physical abuse
- Infidelity by the spouse
Should a waiver be granted, it only applies to the spousal portion, and not the portion attributable to children.
Hawaii Marine Corps Family Support
MCO P5800.16A, Marine Corps Manual for Legal Administration, Chapter 15, sets up monthly support standards members must follow in the absence of an agreement or court order. Per section 15004, the amount payable upon request by a family member is expressed as a fraction of the BAH or OHA the marine is receiving, with a minimum dollar level per family member:
- 1 family member: 1/2 BAH/OHA, minimum $350 each.
- 2 family members: 1/3 BAH/OHA, minimum $286 each.
- 3 family members: 1/4 BAH/OHA, minimum $233 each.
- 4 family members: 1/5 BAH/OHA, minimum $200 each.
- 5 family members: 1/6 BAH/OHA, minimum $174 each.
- 6 or more family members: 1/7 BAH/OHA, minimum $152 each.
Under no circumstances may a marine be required to pay more than 1/3 of his/her gross military pay, which includes base pay and all allowances.
There is no support duty between active duty spouses without children.
Support is payable by cash, check, money order, allotment, etc. There is no provision for in-kind payments.
Modification of Obligation
The member’s commanding officer (Colonel or higher), per section 15005, may reduce or eliminate the support requirement under the following circumstances:
- The spouse earns more than the marine.
- The marine has provided 12 continuous months of interim support per this requirement.
- The marine was the victim of physical abuse by the spouse, substantiated by the family advocacy case management team or a court (must still provide for minor children).
- The marine is paying regular or recurring obligations (e.g. rent or consumer debts) of the family members of sufficient magnitude and duration to justify relief.
Hawaii Air Force Family Support
Air Force Instruction 36-2906, Personal Financial Responsibility requires service members, in the absence of an agreement or court order, to “provide adequate financial support to family members.” Para. 3.2.1.
Unlike the other services, the Air Force does not attempt to define the level of support, instead leaving it up to the parties’ agreement, and civilian courts if the parties do not agree. Even when a commander receives a complaint of nonsupport, the commander may require proof of support, but cannot define what constitutes an adequate level of support.
Support includes not only cash payments, but also in-kind payments like buying groceries, paying bills, etc.
What does this mean? If you are a spouse separated from a service member and need child support or maintenance, get a court order!
Hawaii Coast Guard Family Support
Going through a divorce is not easy but it can be even more complex when servicemen or servicewomen are involved. Support obligations and other similar factors create issues that are not seen in regular Honolulu and Oahu divorce proceedings. You will need the help of a military family attorney to help you successfully navigate this situation.
It becomes necessary for servicemen and servicewomen to understand the factors that affect both spousal maintenance and temporary spousal support in Hawaii; these guidelines vary based on the state that you reside in. Knowledge is power and getting an understanding of your legal options, with the help of a military family lawyer, will ensure that your rights are protected.
Military Family Support Guidelines For Hawaii Coast Guard
The regulations for family support vary depending on the specific branch in the military that the service member is in. In the state of Hawaii, the guidelines for the Coast Guard, in cases where a court order or another similar agreement is absent, are as follows:
- Your spouse: BAH-Diff with the addition of 1/5 of your base pay
- Your spouse and child: BAH-Diff as well as 1/4 of your base pay
- Your spouse and your children: BAH-Diff with the addition of 30% of your base pay
- Your child only: Approximately 17% of your base pay
- Two of your children only: 25% of base pay
- Three or more of your children: 33% of your base pay
- Spouse only: BAH-Diff, plus 20% of base pay.
- Spouse & 1 child: BAH-Diff, plus 25% of base pay.
- Spouse & 2 or more children: BAH-Diff, plus 30% of base pay.
There are some instances where the service member is not required to pay military family support. These include:
- An unfaithful spouse
- An abusive spouse
- Spouse desertion
- When the service member has no knowledge about the welfare and location of the child
- The individual requesting the support doesn’t have custody of the child
A Military Family Support Attorney Will Get You the Support That You Need
At Greg Ryan & Associates, we are dedicated to serving the needs of service members and their families in Honolulu and Oahu. Mr. Ryan’s previous experience as a military JAG officer provides him with a unique perspective that ensures that you will be treated compassion and care as well as the assurance that he will fight for you in the courtroom.