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Paternity issues for military servicemembers and their families

Simply being in the military does not establish special rules or requirements for establishing paternity. When children are born out of wedlock, the servicemember’s chain of command cannot order the military servicemember to support his or her children absent a civil court order establishing paternity and requiring/ordering support of the child. Nor can the servicemember’s chain of command order a paternity test, but rather, through a civil court process, this can be ordered.

Child Support for Children Born out of Wedlock

The Code of Federal Regulations lists out the Department of Defense policies with respect to paternity claims, with the starting point being a court order establishing paternity and requiring that the support be provided. The military will not get involved in ordering paternity tests or attempting to determine a child support obligation. Thus, without a court order, a minor child born out of wedlock does not have the right to military health insurance, nor support. On the other hand, if there is a court order adjudicating paternity, but not awarding child support, the military will treat that child as any other child of a military servicemember. Finally, of note, is that the government requires a court order before garnishing any federal pay, including military pay for child support purposes. 

Military Identification Cards and Military Benefits

Military services have a multi-service publication providing that the department of defense will issue a military identification card for an illegitimate child of a male service member if there is a court order of paternity and a birth certificate presented, or the military servicemember has executed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. To obtain an identification card, the servicemember must complete a DD Form 1172, application for uniformed services identification card DEERS enrollment. 

Basic Allowance for Housing for Military Service Members for children born out of wedlock:

Pursuant to Joint Travel Regulation, Chapter 10, Section 100205.A.3, a servicemember is eligible to receive a BAH based upon an illegitimate child if the servicemember is on the child’s birth certificate, the servicemember has a court order adjudicating parentage or the servicemember has signed a statement of parentage. 

If you are a military servicemember who has fathered a child outside of marriage or if you have a child with a servicemember who has been fathered outside of marriage, it is important that you work with a knowledgeable and experienced military family law attorney. Our office is proud to serve military servicemembers and their families in Kansas and Missouri. Call Pingel Family Law at (816) 208-8130 today to schedule your consultation! 


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