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How does child support work in a military divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | FAMILY LAW - Military Family Law

A military divorce, where one or both spouses serve in the military, consists of nuanced issues that can test the limits of even the most amicable couples.

Aside from apparent disparities in timely paperwork and court appearances due to the military spouse’s frequent deployment for duty, the way child support works is unlike how it is in a civilian divorce. Policies may also vary depending on which branch the military spouse serves – Army, Marine Corps, Air Force or Navy.

Under New Jersey law, child support determination usually begins when the nonmilitary spouse applies for a court order on wage garnishment, which contains specific language instructing the employer of the military spouse to withhold funds. This way, the court may estimate a calculation of the service member’s income through their Leave and Earnings Statement as well as other basic expenses – food, clothing, housing and other necessities – which are both pivotal in establishing child support.

Thus, the economic information of both parents’ income will be at the core of establishing child support aligned with the child’s best interests.

New Jersey’s child support guidelines

The philosophy of the state’s child support guidelines has a three-part premise:

  • Both parents have a continuous duty to their child.
  • The child has the right to share in both parents’ current income.
  • The child cannot be an economic victim of their parents’ divorce.

With these in mind, New Jersey military divorces follow the income shares model, which means the child must receive the same parental income proportion as they would if the family was not torn apart by divorce.

The model follows a specific formula combining the income of both parties. Then, the computation of the “basic child support obligation” computation follows statutory grids showing the child’s household expenses. A “presumptive child support obligation” adds extraordinary expenses, like unforeseen medical bills, to the child’s basic needs. The presumptive needs would be pro-rated based on both parents’ proportionate income share.

Child support may eventually end if the child also enlists in the military, gets married or dies. It continues if the child becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. 

A specialized assistance

Due to these extraordinary and daunting complexities, your family may only break apart further if you do not seek specialized help. A legal team can guide you every step of the way for your and your family’s protection.