All branches of the armed forces have various programs and services available to them to help strengthen military families. Servicemembers and their current or former spouses have unique child support needs.
If called to active duty in the United States’ military, various protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) are available to all servicemembers. The purpose of the SCRA is to allow United States military personnel to devote full attention to their military responsibilities by temporarily suspending judicial and administrative civil proceedings that may impact their rights. Among other protections, this means a hold can be placed on child support court proceedings for a certain period of time, otherwise referred to as a “stay” of proceedings. Proof of activation and inability to participate due to military service is required.
Depending on the circumstances of active duty, in particular deployment overseas, servicemembers who have overdue or unpaid child support may receive a lower interest rate of 6%, instead of 10%, on their arrears. To be eligible for a reduction, proof must be provided that activation to military service will impair the ability to pay the state-mandated interest rate of 10%. To request a reduction, servicemembers should submit a Notice of Deployment – Request for Review of Child Support Order form to the caseworker handling their case.
To ensure that the children of a parent in the service have access to military benefits and health care, parentage, the legal relationship between a parent and child, may need to be established. Assistance is available from any child support office to help establish parentage if the servicemember and the other parent were unmarried at the time of the child’s birth.
A change in circumstances, such as separating from active duty or changing permanent duty stations, may warrant a support order modification. For example, moving to another state may result in a significant difference in pay when the basic allowance for housing changes. Transferring servicemembers should contact the caseworker handling their case to determine actions that are appropriate for each situation and be sure to stay in touch during the transition to ensure their child is appropriately supported and that no enforcement actions are taken.
More information on military specific services can be found on California Child Support Services at: https://childsupport.ca.gov/overview/military-resource-center/