Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

State Will Assist Reservists/Guardsmen Obtain Child Support Reduction If Pay Drops

Sometimes I come across the most interesting and unexpected information when perusing Missouri statutes while researching a case. Take, for instance, Missouri Chapter 452, Section 452.416, passed last year by the Missouri legislature. It directs that the state’s director of child enforcement file a motion to reduce the child support being paid by any Missouri reservist or national guard member called into active duty whose income is reduced by that service.


According to the statute, the soldier paying support need only produce a notarized letter from his/her commanding officer identifying the date that the emergency service began and the soldier’s compensation and the child support enforcement group (CSE) is required to initiate the petition for relief. (By the way, the law also requires that soldier to notify CSE when he/she returns from active duty and directs CSE to have the child support re-modified to reflect that soldier’s new civilian pay level.)


Indeed, CSE’s web site contains a special bulletin entitled: “Attention Reserve and National Guard Soldiers!” (their exclamation point, not mine) describing the program and indicating that the soldier need only produce a copy of his/her latest leave and earning statement and their orders to appear for active duty to get the ball rolling.


According to Ana Margarita Compain-Romero, Communications Director for the Missouri Department of Social Services, within which CSE resides, it takes about 30 days for the agency to review the case and issue a motion.


“Hooray, finally some good news for our soldiers!” was my initial reaction. I suspected that besides being asked to risk their lives for their country, many of them were enduring a financial hardship as well by leaving the safety of their civilian jobs to serve on active duty.


Not so, according to Ms. Compain-Romero, who pointed to a Defense Department commissioned survey indicating that most soldiers called into active duty actually experience an increase in pay. She believes that’s why CSE receives very few requests, perhaps about 10 a year, to seek a reduction of child support for military personnel called into active duty.


According to an article published by American Forces Press Service in January 2006, a Rand Corp study paid for by the Defense Department found that “72 percent of the more than 100,000 troops surveyed saw their earnings jump 25 percent when called to active duty.” The article said that that the average increase was about $10,000 a year.


The study also revealed that 28 percent of reservists saw a pay decrease with most of those seeing a decrease of 10 percent or more, according to the article.


The Rand Corp’s findings were based upon a review of the payroll records of more than 110,000 Air Force and Army reservists mobilized in 2001 and 2002. And, according to this same article, the longer a reservist serves the greater their compensation will exceed their civilian pay: “Reservists who served for 270 or more days in a year saw their earnings jump by an average of 44 percent over normal pay”.


Hmmn, so the overwhelming majority of our reserve and national guard military have experienced a substantial pay increase for putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does this mean that their ex-spouses and the custodial parents of their children are entitled to an increase in child support? And, will CSE assist them in obtaining that bump in support? Stay tuned for the answers in next week’s column.