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Military Divorce Filter
November 15, 2012 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Enlisted Soldier has stopped all financial support, including mortgage payments, utilities and even school lunches for his 2 children.

Many insane details omitted, as he has no compunction against lying to anyone, including in court on the stand.

Friend is a year and a half into divorcing her Army husband. While there was no physical abuse, she currently does have full custody (2 children) and an order of protection against him, which was upheld at a hearing he attended.

He was in the reserves, but on a year long deployment in DC (a few hundred miles from their family home) at the start when she served papers. At the initial arbitration for the temporary (ha!) agreement he claimed that when the deployment ends he would be unemployed. He was spending weekdays on leave at the family home.

The agreement specified his percentage of the mortgage and utilities. Each parent would be responsible for food and minor expenses during their parenting time. He got days until 6 pm and alternate weekends, so for example school lunch would be his responsibility. There was no dollar amount specified that he was responsible for.

Soon after his deployment was over, he became a full time commissioned Army officer, payed at least $96K/year, also stationed in the DC area. (She is employed at less than half that)
He has lied to the court clerk and his command (his own emails and credit card receipts prove it) which has enabled him to avoid setting court dates. His immediate commander is likely involved in the fraud (again, there's evidence)

6 or 7 months ago he stopped paying his portion of the mortgage, and soon after stopped paying utility bills. Even before the protective order was in place he missed most of his weekends, and because he is mainly living in DC he has not been held accountable to pay anything to support his children, not even school lunch. Remember, there was no dollar amount defined in the temporary order.

My friend did write to the base commander, asking how this could be allowed to happen, sending the family home into foreclosure and non support for the children.
It seems that there are thousands being deducted from his pay, which is going to an unknown account. He is claiming that it's going to my friend. On the "skeezy divorce tricks" websites setting up false accounts for this purpose is a common tactic.

What can I, or her family members do? Looking for the regulations and ways to get the command to enforce it, and other advice. Her lawyers, who ARE ex-JAG, have utterly failed her (yes she is trying to get other advice)
posted by anon4now to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Given that it has been escalated to the base commander without results, it might be time to contact her Congressperson. They can't do anything directly, but they might be able to get a response from the chain of command.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:39 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


What can I, or her family members do?

Help her find better lawyers.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:43 PM on November 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


She can consult with her lawyers. If she is dissatisfied with her lawyers, she can hire new lawyers. For every legal right, there is a legal remedy and her lawyers are the best equipped to handle it. Also, please bear in mind that just because your friend is not getting the result she wants does not necessarily mean her lawyers are incompetent. There may be legal matters that prevent her from obtaining the relief she wishes.

I know very little about the realities of life on a military base, but I imagine it is not helping your friend to send letters to the base commander about how she thinks her husband and other officer are in cahoots to commit fraud. Writing letters does not do anything in a legal case but it stands a good chance of annoying the base commander. To answer your question, what you and her family members can do is not interfere. Support your friend emotionally, help her out with the kids, but I do not think unsolicited messages help her.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:43 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Memail me if you would like help specific to your situation and feel comfortable providing identifying base/unit details.

That said, if you do not:
Going to the base commander lets the soldier make her look like the crazy person, because she is "jumping the chain of command." It doesn't matter to civilians, but will help him convince his immediate superiors that he needs their help.

What you want to do is go:
1) To the chaplain for his unit, or the base chaplain if you don't know it. These guys have fingers in every pie on base.
2) To his commander's commander - likely his battalion commander. Have your friend set up and schedule a meeting, if possible. Have her tell them he is, and use this language, "Failing to honorably provide for his dependents." You may also want to have her innocently inquire if he is receiving BAH, and particularly, BAH w/dependents - in which case, he would be taking money from the government for the specific purpose of providing for his family, then not doing so, which makes him guilty of fraud.
3) Tell your friend to start going to every single FRG meeting she possibly can. (Family Readiness Group) and to start socializing on base. If she can't get there through the usual channels, she can probably get there through the commander's wives.

Here's the thing. He can probably, if his command is assisting him, indefinitely delay any court dates. I can think of no less than four ways, offhand, that his command could be assisting him in that. BUT, your friend doesn't actually need to take him to court. He is liable in military law to provide for his dependents - particularly if he is now an officer, there's major, major, bad juju there if he does not. They can and will order him to pay her - and also to disclose the specifics of the account that the pay allotment is going into.

Best of luck. I've seen this kind of stuff happen a lot. Remind your friend to stay calm.
posted by corb at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2012 [36 favorites]


I agree with corb, with one exception - leave the FRG out of this. That will raise the drama level more for your friend than for her ex-husband.
posted by Etrigan at 1:30 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously, better lawyers are needed. This is a specialized area and it needs specialized expertise. Not just divorce lawyers, not just ex-JAG (that may or may not mean anything), but lawyers who specialize in military divorce issues. There will need to be some money spent up front to get that help.

I actually have heard that word to someone in the chain of command can be an effective way of applying pressure on an officer in these situations, given the Army's emphasis on honor and obligation. But that requires knowing precisely how and when to do it. Surgical precision, not just sending random letters, is needed.

I, too, can assist with a referral by MeMail if you would like.
posted by megatherium at 1:51 PM on November 15, 2012


Yeah, leave the FRG out--at least for now. Don't write the base commander. Contact the chaplain and his Sergeant, in writing, detailing what is owed. State that whatever allotments are being taken out of his paycheck, they are not reaching her. Every ex, or married with husbands overseas, that I have known has had allotments taken out of their husband's paycheck and sent directly to them.

Then get a lawyer. NOT the JAG--they're useless, they're biased, and half the time they don't know where to find their asses.

Usually the only thing needed to get a military member to pay up is contacting the first shirt. (his Sergeant.) I find it hard to believe the base commander would be colluding with a lower ranking officer.

Get a lawyer. If he owes her back child support and mortgage, etc. it will be worth it. He can lie all he wants, but investigating his finances will tell the tale.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2012


This jumped out at me:

he became a full time commissioned Army officer, payed at least $96K/year

...and so I went and looked at the current Army pay chart. Is that just his base pay, or is that including housing allowances and stuff like that? 'cause that makes him sound like he's several steps up in the officers' ranks, and I don't know how a jump like that happens... and the reason I point that out is that the base commander should be all the more eager to get this resolved given that high rank.

I wanted to add my voice to the "get a lawyer" and/or "contact the congressperson." The public embarrassment factor of this should be enough to get the base CO motivated if nothing else, but that's going to take some sort of official/legal pressure to get rolling, apparently.

Very sorry your friend is going through all this.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:31 PM on November 15, 2012


I should clarify - I'm not saying she should start telling people in the FRG what's going on, but I think innocent socializing would not be a bad idea, to have phone numbers for later just in case.

96K a year sounds like warrant officer + BAH to me, but I could be wrong.
posted by corb at 8:08 PM on November 15, 2012


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