Army Family Support RegulationSeptember 21, 2020
The Army Family Support Regulation is AR 608-99. This regulation is very complicated and difficult to understand. This article is meant as a general overview.
Basically, the regulation states that all Soldiers must provide financial support to their family members. Usually, this regulation is triggered when a Soldier is geographically separated from their spouse and/or children. For example, if a Soldier and his/her spouse get in an argument and the spouse decides to live somewhere else for awhile, the Soldier in question has to provide financial support to his/her spouse.
The amount of support provided is usually where disputes arise. The regulation states that the Soldier and his/her spouse can come to an agreement that sets the amount of money. As long as the agreement is followed and there is no dispute, the Army will not get involved. If a Soldier wishes to take this course of action, it is highly recommended to get the agreement in writing and to comply with its terms carefully.
Additionally, if there is a court-order (usually from a divorce court) setting the amount of financial support, then the Army will not get involved.
For situations where there is no oral/written agreement and no court order, AR 608-99 sets the amount of support to be provided. Essentially, a Soldier will owe his/her spouse the BAH RC/T with dependents rate monthly in accordance with their rank. There are factors that could lessen this amount, such as if the Soldier in question is supporting multiple family members that are not co-located. Furthermore, if the spouse/family member is living in Government quarters, or a member of the military, the Soldier does not have to provide any financial support.
Children make the situation more complicated and can add or alter the amount of financial support owed.
If there is no agreement or court order, the Soldier's obligation begins immediately when the Soldier and his/her spouse no longer live together. A Soldier can petition his Battalion or Brigade Commander to relieve him/her of the financial obligation. There are a variety of reasons for a Soldier to be relieved of his/her obligation. For example, if the Soldier's spouse makes more money than the Soldier, a Battalion or Brigade Commander may relieve the Soldier of his/her financial obligation. A Soldier being the victim of substantial abuse can also be a reason to relieve him/her of the financial obligation. A Soldier can request to be relieved of any obligation simply out of fundamental fairness. If a Soldier believes that he/she should be relieved of their financial support requirement, it is highly recommended that they consult with an experienced military lawyer to give themselves the best chance of success.
Soldiers often wonder what can happen if they don't comply with their financial support requirement. A Commander cannot force a Soldier to pay his/her spouse; however, if a Soldier refuses, the Commander can attempt to punish the Soldier for violating a lawful order/regulation (Article 92). This could include a Court-Martial, Administrative Separation, Article 15, Letter of Reprimand, etc.
Any Soldier who is no longer living with his/her spouse or children should immediately consult a military lawyer to ensure they comply with the Army Family Support Regulation. Failure to do so could result in UCMJ action.
Any military spouse who is separated from his/her wife or husband and is not getting paid any money should contact their wife/husband's Command. The Command will conduct an inquiry and it usually results in the Soldier being ordered to comply with the Army Family Support Regulation.
This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.