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Child/Spouse Support and Garnishment Issues

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Legal process is defined as any writ, order, summons, or other process in the nature of garnishment directed to the military which is issued by:

  • a court of competent jurisdiction within any state, territory or possession of the US;
  • a court of competent jurisdiction in any foreign country with which the US has entered into an agreement that requires the US to honor such process; or
  • an authorized official pursuant to an order of such court of competent jurisdiction or pursuant to state or local law.

The procedure to obtain a garnishment order is determined by state law. However, federal law determines how the garnishment order is applied to military pay, i.e., how service or process is accomplished, the type of pay subject to garnishment, etc.

Unless state law specifies a lesser amount, federal law provides a limit of 50 percent of the member's aggregate disposable earnings for any workweek if the member is currently supporting a second family (spouse or child) and 60 percent if the member is not supporting a second family. The percentage may be increased by 5 percent if the arrearage is 12 weeks or more.

The legal documents must clearly show that the garnishment order was issued for child support or alimony or both. Garnishment orders will not be honored for payments or transfers of property by one spouse to another for purposes of a marital property settlement or for the division of retired pay resulting from divorce or legal separation.

Sufficient identifying information must accompany the legal process in order for the Defense Finance & Accounting Service to implement the order. At a minimum, the information must include the following: the member's full name, date of birth, SSN, current military status and, if known, the member's current assignment.

Enforcement of garnishment order may be accomplished by sending a request for involuntary allotment via certified or registered mail, return receipt requested to:

Garnishment Operations Directorate,
Code L-Last 4 digits of member's SSN,
DFAS, Cleveland Center,
P.O. Box 998002,
Cleveland, OH 44199-8002

Requests may also be faxed to the following commercial fax numbers indicated by the last 4 digits of the member's SSN-NOTE: You will not receive a return receipt if you fax the order: Last 4 digits: 0000 - 1249: (216) 522-6819, 1250 - 2499, (216) 522-6951, 2500 - 3749, (216) 522-6821, 3750 - 5000: (216) 522-5372; 5001 - 6250, (216) 522-5371, 6251 - 7500: (216) 522-6817, 7501 - 8750: (216) 522-5958, 8751 - 9999: (216) 522-6819.

Call commercial (216) 522-5301 or DSN 580-5301 for additional information.

Statutory Allotments for Child Support and Alimony, (42 U.S.C. 665, 32 C.F.R. Part 54):

Federal law authorizes allotments from active duty military pay in order to satisfy child support and alimony obligations. Alimony alone will not qualify under this law. These statutory allotments may only be paid from active duty pay.

A statutory allotment may be initiated when child support and alimony payments are at least 2 months in arrears. The allotment is initiated by furnishing the DFAS Center a written notice from a court or state agency administering the child support program under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The notice must be signed by an authorized official and must contain the following information:

  • A statement that the person signing the request is an agent or attorney of a state that has a Title IV-D plan with authority under the plan to collect money owed by a military member as child support or child support and alimony. The request may also be signed by an agent of the court issuing the order.
  • The statement must include the military member's full name, SSN, the dates that the current support terminates for each child, and the exact name and address of the allotment payee. The statement must also show the total amount of the allotment to be taken and specify the amount to be paid each month for current support and the arrearage.
  • The statement must be supported by a recently certified copy of the original court order awarding support and a court order which specifies the amount of the arrears and that payments be made to liquidate such arrears.

Allotments cannot exceed 50 percent of a member's pay and allowances if the member is supporting a second family. If the member is not supporting a second family, the allotment may not exceed 60 percent. The percentage may be increased by 5 percent if the arrearage is 12 weeks or more.

After DFAS receives the request, DFAS notifies the member's commander. The commander will then notify and counsel the member. The member will have 30 days to cure the arrearage or to submit evidence that the arrearage is an error. If not, DFAS will ordinarily implement the allotment 30 days after the member's notification. Payments will begin at the end of the month in which the allotment is to be effective.

In Part III-- Retirement Pay Division

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