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The process for stopping child support and alimony payments depends on the method used to start the payment.
If the payment is made because an income withholding order was issued by a child support enforcement agency (CSEA) then in most cases, you will have to contact that particular agency to have them send us a termination order. The reason for this is that most withholding orders that are issued by CSEAs direct us to withhold “until further order.”
It is unusual that they would have given us a firm termination date. Therefore, until we receive another order telling us to stop payments, we are legally mandated to continue issuing payments.
If you are a reservist who was called to active duty and has returned to your non-DoD civilian job and your civilian job is collecting child support, please contact your local support enforcement agency. Ask them to send DFAS notice to terminate the order that was sent to affect your reserve pay.
We cannot stop issuing support payments from your reserve pay unless we are served with a termination. Pay statements from your non-DoD civilian job are not sufficient to stop payments.
In these cases, the court would have issued the garnishment order at the request of the custodial parent. We would usually be making garnishment payments directly to a custodial parent. If the payments are going to a court or SDU, they are serving only as a "pass through" for the payments, and do not monitor the case or initiate any actions.
When the garnishment order contains no termination instructions, we can terminate current support deductions at the member/employee's request if we can determine that the current support obligation has ended, unless the garnishment order directs us to withhold until further order of the court. The member/employee should submit the underlying support order to assist us in this determination, along with any other pertinent documentation such as proof of age and/or graduation.
In addition, if the custodial parent is receiving the payments directly, a request in writing from them is also acceptable.
If we are issuing payments from a retired military member’s retired pay based on an application made under the authority of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. § 1408, then a review of the language in the divorce decree that sets forth the child support obligation may be determinative.
If the decree states when payments are supposed to stop, then that would be controlling. If it doesn’t state when child support should stop, then the member will need to go back to court to obtain an order stopping the child support. There is no federal statute that controls this, so it is up to the state court that issued the order to instruct us to terminate the payments.
If we are issuing payments under the USFSPA and the divorce decree does state that payments will stop upon some condition (usually turning 18 and graduated from high school), then the member will need to provide us proof of that condition being satisfied. Acceptable proof of graduation is a program from the commencement that lists the child’s name, or a letter from the school stating the child has graduated or otherwise left school.
A problem arises when we are issuing payments under the USFSPA and the divorce decree orders support payments for more than one child. If the divorce decree does not state how much to reduce the payment when the first or subsequent child is no longer eligible to receive payment, then the parties will have to obtain a modified court order or CSEA order instructing us on this issue. When payments stop for one child, payments for other children are not automatically pro-rated. Unless the decree clearly states what is to happen, we require the parties to go back to court or a CSEA to get the order modified.
Although we are notified when a military member retires, it can take 30 to 60 days for DFAS Retired and Annuitant Pay to create the retired pay account. We can’t start payments until the retired pay account is established, so there may be a delay in payment. If you are a member about to retire and have a support obligation that needs to continue, please call the Customer Care Center at 888-DFAS-411 (332-7411).
If you are the person receiving the funds and you know the member is about to retire, please contact us. As always, please include the member's Social Security Number on all correspondence.
Page updated Jan. 12, 2018