Base Housing in a Military Divorce

military base housing
Please Note: If you are seeking legal representation, our military divorce attorneys only represent cases in South Carolina. If you are not within our jurisdiction, we ask that you please seek counsel with a qualified law firm in your area.

Military service offers a number of economic benefits to service members and their families, not the least of which is housing. Military families may live in family housing on base, or off base in private housing. Families that qualify to live off base receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that may vary with the cost of living in their area.

Most service members and their spouses who are considering divorce are understandably concerned about how the divorce process, and the end of their marriage, will affect their living situation. Because this is such a frequent concern, we would like to address some of the most frequent questions we hear on this topic.

If I file for divorce from my enlisted spouse, can I stay in base housing?

Under the law, you continue to be a military dependent until such time as your divorce is final. So, technically, you are entitled to remain in base housing with your family. As a practical matter, though, you may find it very difficult to live in the same household as the spouse you are planning to divorce. One of you may need to move out while the divorce is pending.

I am in the Army, and my spouse and I are divorcing. If we can’t live together, do I have a greater right to our family housing on base?

As the member of the couple who is in the military, you might think that if you and your spouse cannot live together, you, as the “sponsor,” have a superior right to your family housing. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true.

When a soldier and their spouse cannot live together in the same household, the garrison commander , after consulting with each of the spouses and Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) usually makes the decision as to which spouse, if either, will be able to remain in base housing until the divorce is final. The needs of any children of the marriage should be taken into account in the determination.

Once made, the decision remains in effect until the marital discord resolves (through reunification, legal separation, or a final divorce) or until the soldier is reassigned to a location more than a one-hour commute away (or separates from the military).

My enlisted spouse has been physically abusive. Can he kick me out of our base housing?

No. As soon as domestic violence has been reported, your spouse’s commander will arrange for the two of you to live separately, with a preference for the victim of the violence to be able to remain in base housing while the perpetrator lives elsewhere. A conviction is not necessary to put this arrangement in place. You should know your options for Military Protective Orders.

If I am living in base housing during the divorce process, can I get Temporary Family Support from my spouse?

When a military service member and their spouse are separated, each branch of the service requires payment of temporary family support, at least until such time as a civilian court orders spousal support and child support in the case.

That said, living in base housing to which you have access through your spouse’s military service may constitute sufficient temporary family support. Army Regulation 608-99 provides that “While the soldier’s family members are residing in Government family housing, the soldier is not required to provide additional family support.”

However, if a civilian court orders additional spousal and/or child support, that provision of AR 608-99 does not mean the service member does not have to comply with the civilian court’s order. If spousal or child support is ordered, the civilian court may consider the value of the government housing a credit against the support obligation.

As a civilian spouse, I decided to move off base after filing for divorce from my enlisted spouse. Does my spouse’s base housing count as income for purposes of calculating support?

If a civilian spouse’s access to base housing through their enlisted spouse counts as support, then an enlisted spouse’s base housing or BAH will count as income they receive when it comes time to calculate child support or spousal support. It makes sense; if the service member did not receive base housing or BAH, they would have to pay for housing, so the value of the housing they receive counts as income.

As a civilian, am I entitled to remain in base housing with my children after my divorce from my enlisted spouse is final?

No. Once your marriage is dissolved, you cease to be a military dependent, and you are no longer entitled to base housing. Each branch of the service handles things differently, but typically, a service member’s ex-spouse will have 30 days to vacate. For example, the ex-spouse of a soldier in the Army will receive a notice following dissolution of the marriage and must vacate base housing within 30 days of receipt of the notice.

If you have other questions about military divorce in South Carolina, we invite you to contact Brinkley Law Firm to schedule a consultation.