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Child support

military income and benefits

Because of the unique nature of military pay, it can be difficult to determine a military parent’s income for purposes of calculating child support payments. In addition to the military parent’s base salary, they may have a housing allowance or live in base housing, and be provided meals and hazard pay. Because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not tax military housing and food allowances, this information will not appear on the military parent’s tax return. But most courts agree that even though this in-kind compensation is not taxable, it should be counted as income when calculating child support obligations.

A military parent’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) documents pay and leave status on a monthly basis (similar to a pay stub), and is a good starting point for determining the military parent’s income for purposes of calculating child support obligations.

In Texas, when calculating child support payments, the income of a military parent includes more than just their base salary. Texas law recognizes that military pay consists of various components, such as basic pay, housing allowances (BAH), subsistence allowances (BAS), and special pay (which can include hazard pay). Even though the IRS does not tax housing and food allowances, Texas courts typically consider these allowances as part of the military parent's income for child support calculations. The military parent's Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) is a crucial document in this process, as it provides a detailed record of the service member's pay and leave status, and is used to ascertain the full extent of their income. The LES will show both taxable and non-taxable income, ensuring that the child support calculation is based on the service member's entire compensation package, not just the taxable income reported to the IRS.

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