Military Retirement Pay and the Collection of Child and Spousal Support
Federal and State Law
Federal and state law allow money from military retirement pay to be with held to meet most child support and spousal support obligations. Spousal support is often called alimony.
The Federal law is called the "Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act" (USFSPA) and is 10 United States Code Section 1408 et seq. The Maine law is Title 19-A MRSA Sec. 2604 (Garnishment of Military Retirement Pay).
There are limits to what can be withheld. The limit is usually 50% of that part of the retirement pay not related to disability. More information on the USFSPA can be found on the Stateside Legal website.
Collection of Child Support and Alimony
Collection of child support and alimony is usually handled by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). When a court makes a Divorce or Unmarried Parental Rights order it will provide the forms for DHHS to collect the child support and any spousal support. Letting DHHS handle this is often best. DHHS can collect from a military pension, from a current employer, from bank accounts and from tax returns. DHHS can collect both current and past due support owed. No other action by the person owed the support is needed. If you have not completed these forms yet, instructions are available on the Pine Tree Legal Assistance website on our Divorce and Parental Rights in Maine page.
The only time that DHHS will not help with collection is when there is no child support order. DHHS cannot help if there is only a spousal support order. If you want to collect spousal support directly from your spouse or ex-spouse's military retirement you need to file a claim with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). You can collect current and past due child support from DFAS. But, you can only collect current spousal support in this way. Past due spousal support cannot be collected from DFAS. The instructions for doing this can be found at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service's website:
If you are retired military and have questions about the amount of money withheld by DFAS, you should contact:
DFAS-CL Code L
PO Box 998002
Cleveland, OH 44199-8002
Or call Toll Free: 1 888-332-7411
Learn more about laws affecting servicemembers, veterans and their families at
Thanks to the Tibor and Anna Doby Veteran Support Fund for supporting our efforts to educate our military servicemembers and veterans about their legal rights.