By Texas Family Law Attorney, Ron Hendricks
My Marine Drill Instructor screamed into my young ear, “Lad, if da f***in’ Navy had wanted youse to have a wife, da f***in’ Navy woulda issued you one with your sea bag!!!!! But, like so many young, green, and homesick officer candidates, I didn’t listen, and I got my own wife to begin my naval career. And she never fit into my sea bag.
I know from personal experience that our military personnel live very rigid and structured lives. I also know from personal experience that the pay scale for the military, especially the enlisted personnel and newly commissioned officers, is extremely low and the financial stress on the family can be deadly. Add to that stress the constant training, temporary assignments away from home followed by long deployments in combat zones or other dangerous areas, military life is not conducive to a “Leave It to Beaver” family life style.
Divorce in the military is just as traumatic and emotional as it is in the civilian world. Child support, child custody and access, and division of property issues are still the same with unique
and specific military pay, retirement, dependent rights post divorce entitlements. We as family law practitioners should be wary of these when we deal with military family law matters.
Here are a few examples of the uniqueness of military family law issues. We don‘t get pay stubs from the service member; we get an LES (Leave and Earnings Statement). That cryptic document will provide you with a great amount of information, mainly base pay, special pay, and allowances information. And there is a difference. Base pay is taxable income as is Flight Pay, Hazardous Duty Pay; whereas an allowance generally is not taxable.
What are some common allowances? BAH (Basic Housing Allowance), BAS (Basic Allowance, Subsistence), or any pay entry that has the word “Allowance” in it. Since the Texas Family Code specially indicates that child support is based, in part, on ALL sources of income, there is another step in the child support calculation. As usual, calculate the net income on the Base Pay then add to it the allowance. That now is your new net income for child support purposes.
There are many other matters of significance dealing with military personnel and their families. I hope to be able to discuss them with you in the future.
At the firm of Bailey & Galyen, we are proud to represent our military veterans and their families with whatever legal issue they may face. Call us at 800-208-3104 to schedule a free consultation.