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

Activated Military Subject To Higher Child Support Payments If Call-Up Increases Earnings

As readers of last week’s column know, Missouri’s Child Support Enforcement group (CSE) is obligated by a 2006 state law to assist reservist and National Guard soldiers called into active obtain a reduction in their child support payments if their income has been reduced by that call-up versus what they earned in civilian life.


However, a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the U.S. Defense Department indicates that most soldiers called into active duty see their paychecks go up, not down. According to the results published by American Forces Press Services, 72% of the over 100,000 troops whose pay records were surveyed by Rand actually experienced an increase in earnings averaging 25%.


All of this brings up the question, would the ex-spouses of those military men and women who saw a substantial pay increase when activated be entitled to an increased child support payment from their soldiering ex-mates? In my opinion, the answer would be in the affirmative.


However, they may have to wait quite awhile before they will see that increase. In 2003, the U.S. Congress passed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This federal law, among it various provisions, requires that active duty soldiers be provided at least a 90 day “stay” (i.e. delay) of any proceeding against them and that such a stay is renewable for additional 90 day periods until that soldier has been released from active duty for at least 90 days. Clearly, a lawsuit such as a motion to modify the child support paid by the soldier would be subject to this law.


Further, the Act also provides for voiding any default judgment entered against the soldier because he or she failed to appear at the proceeding by reason of their active military duty.


Once the soldier has returned to civilian life, their ex-mate can proceed with the motion to modify and then, assuming an affirmative ruling, seek the payment of back due child support for the period that the soldier experienced the higher earnings. This outcome, though, could be 12 -18 months (or longer) after the motion had been first filed. Plus, there may be some difficulty in actually collecting if the trooper had been spending all that extra loot while on duty.


Since CSE assists soldiers reduce their child support payments, I asked them if they would also assist the former spouse of a reservist or guardsperson called into active duty get an increase in child support, should the call-up result in a significant pay increase. Definitely so, according to Ana Margarita Compain-Romero, Communications Director for Missouri’s Department of Social Services.


However, any initiative they take would be subject to the protections of the SCRA, should the soldier seek the protections of the Act, says Ms. Compain-Romero.