Friday, May 13, 2005

Divorce And Child Support Are Eviscerating Military Recruitment

Divorce And Child Support Are Eviscerating Military Recruitment David R. Usher


Men are not stupid. They have learned that when they are patriotic and join the military, the chances are better than 50% that they will end up divorced and come home to a huge child support debt and perhaps even a jail cell on criminal nonsupport charges.

Divorce rates in America are still over 50%. For the military it is even higher -- albeit nobody knows exactly what the real number is since the Pentagon doesn’t report home-front casualty rates.

A man on duty overseas can be hit with a surprise divorce, lose everything he owns, and have a “temporary” child support order levied against him. There is nothing in any federal or state law or the SSCRA requiring that child support orders be based on real contemporary income.

Courts are quite likely to base the child support order on imputed civilian pay – which is commonly much higher than military pay. It is not exceptional to see military men paying over half of their pretax income as child support.

The U.S. military suggests reservists seek a support modification when called into active duty. The Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) instructs similarly.

Where only 4% of civilian men are able to get support modifications, we can safely say it far more difficult to accomplish from a tent in Iraq.

This delivers military men directly into the clutches of criminal federal and state child support laws. If a man becomes either $5,000 or six months (FILO basis of accrual) in support arrears, he becomes a felon. He then automatically loses his passport, driver’s license, business license, professional licenses, and vehicle licenses. If convicted, he loses his right to vote in most states.

Two states, California and Illinois have bills pending this session. The National Organization for Women is opposing the Illinois bill (as we would expect).

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