Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Babies & Unmarried Parents


A recent letter asked about a common topic:  the military benefits that come with having a child if the parents are not married.

My daughter non-member gave birth to twins this last Memorial Day. The father of the twins is in the military. They are not married. Unfortunately it doesn't look like they will either. My daughter lives in California with the twins with 100% custody. The father is stationed in Texas.

Does the father get BAQ or VHA to help support his children for housing? He currently live in the barracks.

Thanks, Concerned Grand Parent

While the writer specifically was asking about housing, I expanded my answer because Tricare medical coverage is such a valuable benefit.
Dear Concerned Grand Parent,

There are several benefits available to the children of servicemembers regardless of their parents' marital status.  The father needs to have a paternity test done, and submit it with the birth certificates to his Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) office to establish the twins as his children within the military records system.

Enrollment in DEERS will entitle them to medical coverage under the Tricare system.  I would recommend that the mother and father discuss the various benefits of Tricare Prime vs. Tricare Standard depending on the children's location and other medical benefits.  They can learn more about this subject at

I strongly recommend that your daughter file for a formal custody and child support agreement.  The father is not entitled to any monetary benefits unless he is paying child support.  If he is paying child support as directed by a child support agreement or court order, he may apply to receive BAH-Diff (Basic Allowance for Housing-Differential).  This is a small amount of money paid each month to servicemembers who are living in the barracks but also paying child support.  The 2013 Rates are available here:  The father must be paying at least as much child support as the amount of BAH-Diff.

I also recommend a legal support agreement because while the parents may be getting along well now, circumstances may change in the future.  A legally binding agreement can prevent a lot of drama in the future.

In addition to the important benefits of health insurance and child support, enrollment in the DEERS system provides the children with eligibility for some other benefits if the servicemember were to be injured or killed.  Keeping those records up-to-date is essential.

Thank you for helping your daughter during this challenging time.  I'm sure she has her hands full!

Regards,  Kate

Readers, do you have other suggestions for parents in this situation.  I've not experienced this personally, so I'm not an expert.  Please help! Show Full Article

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