By Mark Hood, 12th November 20202
As a former serviceman living in this part of the country, I see a lot of military and ex-military personnel who have unique family law issues to deal with.
A case I dealt with recently would be considered “unusual” in non-military circles, but I expect is actually a reasonably common issue with service personnel who have served overseas.
A young soldier deployed overseas at the start of his military career met a local lady, the result of which was the birth of a child, of whom the serviceman was completely unaware. There is a good degree of international cooperation between nations when tracing and following up absent fathers to chase them for unpaid child maintenance. Our soldier was tracked down seven years later and presented with a bill for underpaid maintenance of over £20,000. There was the threat of enforcement action (including imprisonment, placing a charge on property he owned, and an attachment of earnings order) if this sum wasn’t paid within 14 days. He had been ordered to pay over £350 per month child support by the overseas court.
Obviously, the soldier was in total shock. He had since been married and divorced and had two other children from this marriage for whom he was now paying maintenance. He simply couldn’t afford it. At this point, the solider engaged us to work on his behalf to apply to the foreign court to vary the maintenance order downwards, and to come to a deal over the payment of arrears, organising on the soldier’s behalf an affordable payment plan.
For any soldiers in a similar position, there are a number of points that must be borne in mind;
- most countries where soldiers will serve have reciprocal enforcement arrangements meaning that the country’s courts can enforce local child maintenance court orders through the UK courts.
- soldiers in this position must not ignore such foreign orders as the arrears will keep on building up, and will be enforced in time within the UK, by which time they could have reached unmanageable levels
- Any soldier should be well aware that the military take a particularly dim view of an individual’s poor financial management and may well find themselves the subject of administrative action for allowing things to get so far out of control.
My strong advice to any service person in this position is to contact us at Goughs where we have a firm understanding of the military and are positioned to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information tailored to you and your unique circumstances.
Family Solicitor - email@example.com