For Virginians who were members of the military and are paying child support as retirees after a military divorce, it is important to understand when those payments will stop. While parents will be glad to pay for their child’s upkeep, it can still be a financially onerous issue and there will be a sense of relief when the payments no longer need to be made. Understanding how the payments will be stopped when they have been issued directly to the custodial parent from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is a critical factor in concluding the payments.

When DFAS issues payments from the retired pay of the former military member and it was made based on the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA), the language in the divorce order detailing the child support payments will be used to determine when the payments will cease. If there is a designated date at which the payments will stop, that will take precedence. If there is not, the military member must get a court order to stop the child support. The state that issued the order will need to tell DFAS to stop the payments as there is no federal law controlling this situation.

When payments were made based on USFSPA and it states that the payments will stop when a requirement is met – often when the child reaches legal adulthood at 18 and has completed high school – then there will need to be proof given that this has been met so the payments can stop. If payments are made by USFSPA, it can be problematic if the order covers more than one child. The divorce decree must say how much the payment must be reduced when a child is not eligible to be covered by child support any longer. There will need to be a modified court order to that effect.

With child support, the automatic payments can come to a significant amount of money. It behooves the supporting parent to make sure to take the necessary steps to stop the payments when he or she is legally allowed to. Given the need for court orders for many of these steps to be taken, it is wise to have legal assistance from a law firm experienced in all aspects of military divorce.