Most of the reservists called up to serve in the Iraq war have paid a big price: a significant reduction of their wages as they transferred from civilian to military jobs, separation from their loved ones, and of course the risk of battle wounds or death. Regrettably, on their return home, those who are divorced fathers could face another grievous penalty: loss of their children, financial ruin, prosecution as “deadbeat dads,” and even jail.
Reservists’ child-support orders were based on their civilian wages, and when they are called up to active duty, that burden doesn’t decrease. Few can get court modification before they leave, modifications are seldom granted anyway, and even if a father applied for modification before deployment the debt continues to grow until the case is decided much later.
These servicemen fathers cannot get relief when they return because federal law forbids a court to reduce the debt retroactively. Once the arrearage reaches $5,000, the father becomes a felon subject to imprisonment plus the loss of his driver’s and professional licenses and passport.
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