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Q. I currently reside in Germany. My husband is stationed in Iraq and couple months after he leaves, he doesn’t want to be married any more. To make things even better, he cuts me off from the money. He wipes the bank account out and leaves $1. I am currently not working and have two children.

I go to legal and guess what they tell me: According to Army regulation, since we stay in base housing, he doesn’t have to give me anything. Are you serious? He gets COLA and separation pay for us, but he doesn’t have to give us a dime?

I guess he tried to be nice, so he gives me $350 a month. How do you live off of that? I asked, "Why don’t you stop the COLA and separation pay, since I’m not getting it anyway." Guess what? They can’t stop it — because he’s married — but he doesn’t have to give it to me. That makes no sense.

I understand that they made those laws to protect the soldiers, but what about us spouses?

I’ve been through the chain of command, Army Community Service. You name it; I’ve been there. Everyone says, "Yes, this is horrible," but since that regulation is there they can’t do anything.

I’ve received a loan, but I’m going to have to apply for another one again soon. I’ve been on several interviews, but it’s hard to find a job here. They tell me to go back to the States so I can get BAH. It seems like there is nothing to protect or help me and my children.

When I ask my husband for money he tells me to get a job, or "I can’t help you." My brakes went out on my car and he says that’s not his responsibility. Thanks for the info, I need all the help and support I can get.

A. As you have learned, Army regulations require members to support families at no less than the level of the Basic Allowance for Housing. You live in military housing, so you receive that support.

Each branch of the service has its own policies, but the Army only requires support for dependents over and above BAH if that support is court ordered.

A friend who is a military spouse and an attorney helped me with this question, but this information is not intended to replace or provide personal legal advice.

To get that advice, you are eligible to go to your installation legal office. A military attorney can represent and assist you in negotiating a support agreement with your husband and his attorney. For that agreement, you can request the funds you consider reasonable for your family.

If your husband signs a support agreement, then the Army is obligated to enforce it. If he will not agree to it, your next step could be civilian court to obtain a court order, which the Army would also enforce.

If you do return to the U.S. to pursue this, it’s best to find an attorney familiar with military family issues.

Your husband receives a Cost of Living Allowance for himself and his dependents based on location. If you officially return to the States, your husband is no longer eligible to receive COLA for you and your children at overseas rates.

Also, if you leave military housing and no longer benefit from BAH, your husband can be required by the Army to provide you with funds no less than BAH.

Whatever you decide, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Every situation is different, and an attorney can provide legal advice specifically for you.

For more on military regulations regarding family support, COLA and BAH, see the Spouse Calls blog.

Terri Barnes is a military wife of 23 years and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at and see the Spouse Calls blog here.

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