If you are going through a military divorce, you may be concerned about how you will receive the spousal support (alimony) or child support that you need. The only two methods that you can use to involuntarily take money from a military member's pay is through garnishment or allotment. Both of these methods require you to take legal action, and this blog will discuss how you can achieve garnishment.
The United States Code §659-662 and the Code of Federal Regulations Part 581 outline the legal process for receiving garnishment. These codes authorize the placing of garnishments against the pay of active duty, Guard, Reserve and retired military members in order to enforce child support and alimony that is ordered by state law. Arizona state law determines the procedure for how to go about seeking a garnishment order, but federal law is responsible for determining how the garnishment will be applied to a military member's pay.
What type of court can issue a garnishment order? A court of competent jurisdiction within any state, territory or possession of the United States has the authority to order the garnishment of a military member's pay. If the United States has entered into an agreement with a court of competent jurisdiction in a foreign country, the United States will honor a garnishment request from that court. Federal law also permits legal process in the form of any order, writ, summons or other process in the nature of government that is directed to the military by an authorized official who has received an order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
In order for garnishment orders to be honored, the legal documents that accompany the order must clarify whether the order applies to alimony or child support or both. In a military divorce or separation where a spouse tries to issue garnishment for payment or transfers of property for a marital property settlement, those garnishment orders will not be honored.
How much of a military member's earnings are subject to garnishment? Unless state law specifies a lesser amount, a maximum of 50% of the member's aggregate disposable earnings for any workweek can be garnished if the member if currently supporting a second family. The limit is set at a maximum of 60% for members who are not support a second family. If the member has not paid support for 12 weeks or more, then the amount of garnishment may be increased by five percent.
If you are successful in obtaining a court order for garnishment after a divorce or separation from a member of the military, keep in mind that the action will be carried out by the Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS). The military chain of command does not have the authority to enforce garnishment, and the DFAS cannot enforce garnishment either if they do not have the necessary information. The DFAS must be provided with sufficient identifying information such as the member's full name, SSN, date of birth, current military status and the member's current assignment (if known) in order to enforce garnishment.
Individuals who are looking to enforce a garnishment order may be accomplished by sending a request 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
To learn more about this process and if you qualify to receive garnishment after a military divorce, contact a member of our skilled legal team. We have over 25 years of experience in family law and are always prepared to help you. You can also learn more about military benefits here and