Each of the military services have regulations which require members to “provide adequate support” to family members. However, here’s the rub: The military has absolutely no authority (without a court order) to *force* an individual to pay such support against his/her will. If a military member fails to provide support, the military can (and does) punish an individual, but such punishment is usually covered under the Privacy Act of 1974, and the military is not allowed to discuss the punishment with anyone. Obviously, this upsets a lot of spouses who claim nonsupport, and feel that the military is not doing anything to help them. Unfortunately, the military’s hands are tied by law in this area.
Exactly what constitutes “adequate support” differs from service-to-service. For example, Army Regulation 608-99, “FAMILY SUPPORT, CHILD CUSTODY, AND PATERNITY, requires a soldier to provide an amount equal to BAH Type II, at the “With Dependent Rate,” at the with dependent rate, unless there is a court order or written agreement providing for a different amount. If the soldier has more than one support obligation, that amount is divided equally among the supported parties. For example, if the BAH Type II with depenent rate for a soldier’s rank is $400 per month, and he separates from a wife and child, he must pay $200 per month each, unless there is a court order or written agreement stating otherwise. This is not an “absolute” requirement, however — the regulation contains provisions which allow the commander to waive requirements in certain cases, such as when the spouse makes more money than the soldier, or the soldier is a victim of abuse, or the family member is in jail.