Military divorce and support

In addition to New Mexico family law, there are federal laws and requirements governing military divorce. One example is child and spousal support. Alimony and child support are separate obligations based upon different legal considerations. Alimony, also known as maintenance, is paid from the military spouse to their spouse for daily support. Courts may order a spouse to pay one or both types of support.

Alimony is based upon the financial needs of one spouse and the other spouse’s ability to pay this support. In addition to male spouses, a woman now may be ordered to her financially-dependent husband. Spousal support is awarded less often because there are now more two income married couples where one spouse is economically dependent on the other spouse.

The military has emphasized that its service members provide ongoing and adequate financial support for its families that are separated. It is concerned over the separations that occur because of marital difficulties experienced by military spouses or geographical separations associated with military deployments or assignments.

A servicemember’s support obligations are usually set forth when there is a court order governing child support or alimony. However, each branch of the armed forces also has policies setting forth that geographically-separated families receive support from their military spouses if there no court order or settlement.

Each branch has a different definition of family members that are entitled to support. At least, this includes current spouses and any minor children from the current marriage, who were adopted or who were born out of wedlock. Support responsibilities are different for each military branch. The servicemember’s pay grade or rank is often connected to the amount of support that is paid.

It is unlikely that the military will order additional spousal support or apply the family support provision if a court ordered alimony. Any support determined by the military will govern if there is a no court order of written agreement. An attorney may assist military couples pursue their rights under New Mexico law and military laws and policies. Legal representation can also help assure that support orders are enforced.

Source: American Bar Association, “Awarding alimony and support,” Accessed Sept. 5, 2017

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