Supporting dependents during divorce

  • Published
  • By Jovan Legister
  • 66th Air Base Group Judge Advocate Office
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The Air Force expects all Airmen to provide adequate support for their dependents, even while going through a divorce.

Air Force Instruction 36-2906, Personal Financial Responsibility, requires Airmen to provide “adequate support” for a spouse, child or other relatives for whom the member receives an additional allowance.

This requirement is enforced regardless of whether the service member is married, separated or in the process of a divorce. The AFI does not designate an exact monetary value or percentage to the term “adequate support.” “Adequacy” is determined either by court order, contractually between the service member and spouse, or by the member’s commander.

In Massachusetts, dependents’ remedies for nonsupport may include a court order for child support and spousal allowance, and/or garnishment of a service member’s pay, if necessary to enforce such an order.

Under Massachusetts General Law, the court will determine the appropriate amount for family support based on numerous factors, including, but not limited to: the service member’s net income, assets and earning ability; the family members’ reasonable living expenses; the family members’ capacity to obtain employment; and other financial responsibilities of the service member. To carry out an order for garnishment, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service must be provided the court order.

In the absence of either a court order or a written agreement between the service member and spouse, the member’s commander will determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether an Airman is “adequately” supporting his or her dependents.

For further information on responsibility for adequate family support, please contact the Legal Office at 781-225-1410.