The Correct Military Income for Support - The Men's Legal Center


Very few people have served in the military, which has its own lingo and acronyms. So, it is often difficult for a family law judge to make heads or tails of a Service Person’s monthly pay stub known as a monthly Leave and Earnings Statement or LES. And, unlike most civilian pay stubs, a military person has taxable and non-taxable income. All military pay is taxable. Other types of pay for Navy personnel are sea pay, Special and Incentive Pay. All the non-taxable income comes from allowances. One of the highest allowances is for housing or BAH known as Basic Allowance for Housing. The family court normally just adds the BAQ (Basic Allowance in Quarters) to the service member’s income in calculating support.

In exotic duty stations like Japan, the BAQ is called Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) and is higher because housing on the economy is high. If the service member lives on base or housing is provided, the BAQ goes back to the government.

Regarding the Overseas Housing Allowance, a service person should be quick to point out to the family law judge that the Service Member does not normally pick his or her duty assignment. The Service Person is sent to by the Service where he or she is told.

Is it fair to ascribe Overseas Housing Allowance for a high cost of living overseas areas to the Service Member?

The court should normally attribute to the parties the tax filing status post-divorce. If one party is the custodial parent, that party should be filing Head of Household with the parent and the children as dependents.

If one party is the non-custodial parent, that party should be filing Single with one deduction. Normally the Single with one deduction filing status results in the net income for support calculations. The state income tax of the various states varies greatly, and some states have no state income taxes at all.

There is always room for advocacy in family court. When in family court, a service member should ask for unreimbursed employee expenses to be deducted from the gross pay. An active-duty person has many unreimbursed employee expenses such as the purchase of military uniforms over and above any allowance received. Also, the out of the pocket costs of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) should be requested if applicable.

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