By Mr. Michael K. Beaton (IMCOM Europe)May 29, 2018
ANSBACH, Germany -- As members of the United States Army, Soldiers do not just represent themselves and their families, but also the United States Army. As a result, the Army requires Soldiers to manage their personal affairs in a way that does not bring discredit upon themselves or the United States Army. Specifically, the Army expects Soldiers to maintain reasonable contact with family members to ensure dependent well-being does not become a matter of official concern. In order to do this, Soldiers are responsible for providing adequate financial support to family members, to honor their parental commitments, and to comply with all court orders. Commanders are responsible to ensure Soldiers adhere to these responsibilities. Although the Army recognizes that most Soldiers and their dependents can manage financial affairs without command involvement, the commander must get involved when a family member submits a complaint to the command alleging financial non-support.
How to Determine Financial Support? When a complaint of non-support is made by a family member against a Soldier, the Commander must look to Army Regulation (AR) 608-99 to determine what the Soldier must pay.
First, the Soldier must obey any court orders by a US court or a foreign court, if that foreign court order was enforced by a US court, or if the United States has agreed in a treaty to honor valid financial support orders entered by courts of that foreign country.
Second, if there is no foreign court order, a commander must determine whether a written, signed separation agreement exists. If so, the Soldier must follow the terms to which he or she agreed in that separation agreement. Oral agreements are not enforceable.
Finally, if there is no separation agreement, the Soldier must adhere to the interim support guidelines in AR 608-99. Those guidelines generally require a Soldier to pay the full or a fractional amount of the Non-Locality BAH RC/T With Dependents rate. The support amount depends on a number of factors such as the number of supported dependents, where those dependents live, and whether the Soldier has dependents from another marriage. On the other hand, if the family is living in Government Housing, there is no requirement to provide any financial support. Please keep in mind that there are many different dependent support scenarios to consider when calculating interim support. Accordingly, it is crucial that any Soldier with questions about his or her particular situation immediately seek legal counsel to determine what amount they should pay.
Soldiers can make payments in a number of ways. Some of the more common methods are cash, check, money order, electronic transfer (ETF) or an allotment. However, best practice is to make payments in a recordable way so if a commander asks a Soldier for support proof, the Soldier can retrieve a bank statement. Additionally some "payments-in-kind" count toward the support obligation. For instance, a Soldier paying a mortgage or rent on a home in which the dependents reside can credit that amount toward their interim support obligation. Payments-in-kind which exceed the interim support amount are not credited toward future months. Although rent, mortgage and essential utility payments count as payments-in-kind, payments for cars, insurance, or cell phones do not count, unless the supported dependent agrees, in writing, to this method of payment.
What Happens When a Soldier Fails to Adequately Support Dependents? Parts of AR 608-99 are punitive. For instance, if a financial non-support complaint is made against a Soldier and that Soldier is unable to demonstrate support has been paid according to a court order, separation agreement, or the interim support guidelines, he or she is in "arrears."
Soldiers who fall into arrears are automatically in violation of AR 608-99, and commanders can impose UMCJ punishment as Failure to Obey a Lawful Order. This is the case even if the Soldier was never previously counseled on support guidelines, and as a result, if a Soldier is geographically separated from dependents who do not live in Government Family Housing, a good rule of thumb is to adhere to the interim support amounts or ensure payments-in-kind reflect meet interim support. Additionally, a commander may impose UCMJ punishment if he or she determines a Soldier has not made payments in accordance with a court order or separation agreement. Again, whenever a Soldier is in doubt about support obligations, it is best to seek out legal guidance.
When does the support requirement end? A support requirement may end in a number of ways. For instance, when a judge signs a divorce decree that does not include an obligation to pay alimony or child support, then the obligation may end. Another way an obligation may end is when the Soldier's Special Court-Martial Convening Authority or Battalion Commander, generally the Lieutenant Colonel (O-5) in the Soldier's chain of command, determines there is no applicable court order or separation agreement and grounds exist to terminate payments.
AR 608-99 lists specific grounds on which the termination authority may exercise authority, which include a Soldier payor who has been the victim of abuse by the dependent, when the dependent is in jail, when a court issues a support order without proper authority, when a dependent makes more money than the Soldier, or when the Soldier has been making payments for 18 months, and other conditions are met. Again, if you think you fall into one of the above categories DO NOT stop making payments. Rather, immediately seek legal counsel for a course of action.
Please note: This article was compiled and vetted by Mr. Austen Swaim, Chief of Client Services and Legal Assistance and Attorney-Adviser at the Ansbach Legal Assistance Office as a public service. The Information contained in this article only provides basic information and is not intended to serve as a substitute for personal consultation with a qualified legal assistance attorney.
ABOUT THE USAG ANSBACH LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Legal assistance is a primary mission of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. In the Ansbach community the Legal Assistance Office offers assistance five days a week. Scheduling an appointment is highly recommended, but assistance to walk-in clients is provided on a space-available basis. Assistance is provided to eligible clients, including active duty, retired, or dependents with military ID cards, reserve, National Guard, or dependents mobilized for +29 days with updated ID Card or orders in hand, and authorized DoD civilians. The LAO prepares or reviews legal documents including, but not limited to: wills, powers of attorney, living wills, healthcare powers of attorney, bills of sale, simple affidavits, leases, household goods claims assistance, promissory notes, adoption proceedings, name changes, uncontested divorces, and separation agreements. The LAO assists with legal issues regarding child support, fair credit reporting, debt collection, bankruptcy, identity theft, German landlord relations and leases and the preparation and review of petitions to the Army Review Boards Agency, rebuttal statements or appeals for FLIPLs, officer evaluation reports, officer or NCO evaluation reports, administrative reprimands, or other documents in connection with other military administrative actions. They also provide confidential Trial Defense Services (TDS) and legal guidance to Soldiers on adverse UCMJ actions relating to Article 15 counseling, courts-martial, chapters, etc.
The U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Legal Assistance Office is located on the third floor in building 5817 on Katterbach Kaserne and is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 to 11:45 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m., and open Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. It is closed on weekends and U.S federal holidays. To make an appointment call DSN: 467-2103 or CIV 09802-83-2103.
ABOUT THE U.S. ARMY COMMUNITY IN ANSBACH
The U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach (USAG Ansbach) military community is located in the Franconian region of Bavaria and is spread across six sites and nine kasernes dispersed around the city of Ansbach and the village of Illesheim: Barton Barracks, Bismarck Kaserne, Bleidorn Kaserne, Franken Kaserne, Katterbach Kaserne, Oberdachstetten Training Area, Shipton Kaserne, Storck Barracks, and Urlas Kaserne. Today, Ansbach is the home of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (12th CAB), the community's largest tenant unit. USAG Ansbach continues its mission of streamlining base support operations management, allowing tactical commanders to concentrate on their essential training and missions. The garrison takes pride in its support to more than 6,000 Soldiers, civilians, and family members, working and living within the USAG Ansbach area. To learn more about the people and facilities of the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach (USAG Ansbach) and the people they support in Ansbach, Katterbach and Illesheim, visit the community website at www.ansbach.army.mil.