Minnesota does consider military allowances as income when calculating child support.
Men and women serving in the Military often receive allowances for active duty. These allowances are often called BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) and BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence). Military men and woman do not pay state or federal taxes on BAH and BAS allowances, thereby resulting in a substantially increased monthly income when compared to other typical forms of compensation.
For calculation purposes, a “reasonable child support” is based upon on all sources of income, including military allowances of BAH and BAS. By including military allowances in the calculation, the child support award can be substantially higher.
Many divorcing parents in the military grapple with the issue of whether a military member should be entitled to reap the entire benefit of BAH and BAS instead of paying a portion of the allowances as child support. If this issue is contested, Minnesota Courts will likely include BAH and BAS allowances as income because: (1) the Minnesota child support statute has been consistently interpreted in a broad manner; (2) Minnesota case law supports the inclusion of the military allowances as income for child support; and (3) public policy supports the idea that the benefit of military allowances should flow to the child and provide a standard of living to what the child would have experienced had the parents not divided the household.
Minnesota’s child support statute defines “income” as:
“any form of periodic payment to an individual including but not limited to wages, salaries, payments to an independent contractor, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, annuity, military and naval retirement, pension and disability payments.”
While the Minnesota child support statute speaks directly to military retirement, pension and disability payments as income for the purposes of calculating child support, the issue of BAH and BAS has been directly addressed in the Minnesota Courts. Jackson v. Jackson, 403 N.W. 2d 248, 251 (Minn. Ct. App. 1987) (holding although the increase in the father’s income was in part due to increased allowances as part of father’s military service, the child was entitled to benefit from the father’s increased income and to enjoy the standard of living that the child would have had if the marriage had not been dissolved).
At Clausen & Hassan, our Minnesota Family Law Attorneys have experience with child support issues and questions. If you have questions about your specific situation, contact us today for your free consultation.