“Adequate Financial Support” No Longer Adequate Per AFI 36-2906
While all of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces require their personnel to provide temporary family support to family members during separation, the Air Force family support standards in AFI 36 2906 were, for a long time, the only ones without an articulable standard.
And that’s putting it mildly – the former family support requirement was almost non-existent. In the absence of a court order to the contrary, Air Force Instruction 36-2906 merely required members to “provide adequate financial support to family members.” In other words, if you were separated from a member of the Air Force, you had better have a court order, because the command was going to have a tough time enforcing such a standard.
I’m embarrassed to admit that the Air Force changed their support standards with so little fanfare that it took me a while to notice. But in July 2018, AFI 36 2906, Personal Financial Responsibility was modified so that the Air Force standard is more aligned with how the Army has long handled temporary child support or spousal support issues.
Air Force Family Support Based Upon Non-Locality BAH
In the absence of a court order or written agreement to the contrary, AFI 36 2906, para. 4.1 now requires members to support their families during separation with pro rata shares of BAH With Dependents w/o the locality adjustment (what the military used to call BAQ, without the VHA add-on, back in the relative stone age until the mid-1990s).
The non-locality BAH Rates are published in an annual table, and as the name suggests, they are national rates, so an E-9 in Hawaii pays the same as one in Wyoming or Colorado. Sample rates for 2020 are:
- O-5 $1829.40
- W-3 $1308.60
- E-7 $1172.10
How Much Family Support per AFI 36 2906
As indicated, the Air Force family support obligation is the pro rata share of BAH, which means you take the BAH and divide it by the number of dependents, and each receives that amount. So a separated E-7 with a spouse and no other dependents owes the spouse $1173.10/mo in 2020. If there is one other family member – a child living with the spouse, the obligation remains the same.
In situations where the family is split between households, the pro rata component becomes important. If the member has two children living with her, and a spouse living elsewhere, the spouse is one of three family members, so is entitled to 1/3 of the BAH. However, if the family is living in government housing, then no further support is required.
There are exceptions to certain parts of AFI 36 2906 – for example, if the spouse earns more than the member, or has committed domestic violence against the member. Only a squadron commander can release a member from the obligations, and only in limited circumstances.
For a complete discussion of this new AFI 36 2906 support obligation for Air Force personnel, and how the exceptions work, see our updated Air Force Family Support Requirements article in the Military Divorce Guide.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Air Force has recently really been stepping up to the plate to modernize its regulations to deal with family law situations. The USAF is currently the only branch of the armed forces which have a regulation addressing military relocation and child custody, giving its divorced personnel an opportunity to defer PCS assignments or request relocation to be closer to their children in shared custody situations.
Award-Winning Air Force Family Support Lawyers in El Paso County
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