Federal and State Law
Federal and state law allow money from military retirement pay to be withheld to meet most child support and spousal support (alimony) obligations.
The Federal law is called the "Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act" (USFSPA) and is 10 United States Code Section 1408 et seq. The Maine law is Title 19-A MRSA Sec. 2604 (Garnishment of Military Retirement Pay).
There are limits to what can be withheld. The limit is usually 50% of the part of the retirement pay not related to disability. You can find more information on the USFSPA on Stateside Legal.
Collection of Child Support and Alimony
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) usually handles child support and spousal support collection. When a court makes a Divorce or Unmarried Parental Rights order it will provide the forms for DHHS to collect the child support and any spousal support. Letting DHHS handle this is often best. DHHS can collect from a military pension, from a current employer, from bank accounts and from tax returns. DHHS can collect both current and past due support owed. No other action by the person owed the support is needed. You can learn more about DHHS child support collection here.
The only time that DHHS will not help with collection is when there is no child support order. DHHS cannot help if there is only a spousal support order. If you want to collect spousal support directly from your spouse or ex-spouse's military retirement you need to file a claim with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). You can collect current and past due child support from DFAS. But, you can only collect current spousal support this way. Past due spousal support cannot be collected from DFAS. The instructions for doing this can be found at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service's website.
Note: This process can be very complicated. You should consult with a lawyer if you can.
How much money can DFAS take from retirement pay?
If you are retired military and have questions about the amount of money withheld by DFAS, you should contact:
DFAS-CL Code L
PO Box 998002
Cleveland, OH 44199-8002
Or call Toll Free: 1 888-332-7411
Learn more about laws affecting servicemembers, veterans and their families at Stateside Legal
Thanks to the Tibor and Anna Doby Veteran Support Fund for supporting our efforts to educate our military servicemembers and veterans about their legal rights.