In any separation, divorce or custody dispute, a party might seek financial support. It may be a request for spousal support to get back on their feet. It may be a request for child support. Whatever the type of family support sought, there are two basic strategies for resolving the dispute: negotiating an agreement or litigating a case through the courts. If one party is a military servicemember, however, there may be alternate methods available to settle these issues.
Each service branch has regulations requiring servicemembers to support their families in the event of a separation. The service branch involved can have a great deal of impact when deciding to pursue support through the servicemember’s command. Some branches, like the Army, issue very specific regulations, spelling out the exact dollar amount they will provide, the length of time it will be in place, and the options for the servicemember to challenge the regulation amount. Others offer a more vague direction to servicemembers, as the Air Force does in instructing individuals to provide “adequate financial support” for their family members. These differences from branch to branch need to be considered in every military family support case.
There are several benefits to pursuing family support through the service branch, most notably the speed in reaching a decision. Should there be specific regulations, the question of family support focuses only on applying those regulations to the current case. The family support award is also a lawful order issued to a servicemember, and failure to obey such an order could have serious consequences for the servicemember.
Using a servicemember’s command to obtain family support does have its drawbacks. The biggest shortcoming is that the regulations provide only temporary support awards, giving a party seeking support a “stop-gap” measure until they obtain a more permanent solution. Since the regulations are designed to apply to servicemembers across all fifty states, the support amount is often lower than what a Virginia court would provide.
The choice to negotiate or litigate is unique to every case, and the decision to pursue support through military regulations is no different. Virginia is one of several states with military bases from all five branches of the Armed Forces, and the family law attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. have extensive experience guiding both servicemembers and spouses through family support issues. We represent clients in Fairfax, Manassas, Fredericksburg, and throughout Northern Virginia. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.