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Military Pay Changes When Adding Dependents

We’ve all heard people say that some soldiers marry a “random” girl just for the higher pay or they have children expecting a huge increase in their paycheck. Where do these rumors start? So, here I am to debunk the myth!


When a soldier gets married, this authorizes him (in most cases) to live off post. At the very least, he’ll be authorized family housing on post. At this point, he either begins to receive BAH (housing allowance) or lives in “free” housing on post. So the housing allowance is a definite increase. But keep in mind, it also comes with an increase in bills since he’s now paying a mortgage or rent along with utilities, etc. so in most case it is a wash. If the soldier was already living off post and receiving BAH, he will receive an increase when he marries as he will then receive BAH at the “with dependents” rate. For our duty station, the increase is roughly $150.

When the soldier moves out of the barracks and into housing (on or off post), he will no longer be eating in the chow hall on the Army’s dime. Instead, he will receive BAS since the Army is no longer providing “three squares a day”. Once again, this is an increase in pay and once again, it comes with an increase in expense…so a wash.

There is no increase in base pay for extra dependents. Unless the soldier is living overseas, BAH and BAS are the only pays that will change when a soldier adds his first dependent. Again, have I mentioned how much I hate the word dependent?

I should also mention that if a soldier who is married deploys or is in training for more than 30 days, he will receive family separation allowance, which is currently $250 a month. So there’s your increase in pay. The catch is you have to live without your husband to get it!


If the soldier is already married when he has children, there will be no increases to his pay. No increase in base pay, no increase in BAH and no increase in BAS. NONE. The Army does not pay additional for additional dependents beyond the first.

If the soldier is stationed overseas, pay rates can differ based on his home country and there may be special allowances. This information provided above assumes the soldier is stationed CONUS.

I’m willing to bet I missed something when laying out the pay differences. So if you notice an error, by all means let me know! 🙂

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 95 comments… add one }
  • odessa October 16, 2015, 7:43 am

    hello my boyfriend and i are going to get married as soon as possible he wanted to be here in kuwait but the process is i have to pay the us military mariage certificate and his tickets flight going here in kuwait…pls help me if this is true i dnt want to be scam…

  • Lesly Vargas October 23, 2015, 1:41 pm

    what if my husband doesn’t have papers and im in the navy?

  • Kayla November 13, 2015, 12:59 pm

    Hi im thinking about joing the army again when i got out i had no kids and wasnt married i now am married an have three kids will there be an increase in pay from what i was making then because i have dependants now? Just wondering

  • Yalitza Maldonado December 1, 2015, 12:48 pm

    Okay my boyfriend is going to join the navy. We are not married but we have a 3 month old baby. He spoke to a recruiter and said I have to put him on child support. What if we got married Before he leaves to basic training or after?

  • Duke December 6, 2015, 11:36 pm

    Hi Stacey. .. I’m joining the military in 2 weeks…. my girlfriend have a child that is not mind, we are not marry either but been living together for 5 yrs… can I collect Bah for the child?

    • Stacey Abler February 27, 2016, 9:20 pm

      No, you could only collect BAH at the with dependents rate if you’re married or you have a biological child.

  • Brittany December 7, 2015, 4:16 pm

    QUESTION: I have 3 children from a previous relationship and my fiance is in the Navy. I’ve head several different things about our living situation. And I’m not sure what is true and what isnt
    1. That if we are not married and he chooses to live off base that we are responsible for our own living and moving costs. (This is understandable and I am ok with this.)
    2. That if we are married that we can live off base and he will receive ‘benefits’ such as housing etc., for me and him but not for the kids (also understandable). However I must have court ordered sole custody of my kids and I will need to provide their living and moving costs, but that I cannot take them overseas even with a court order.
    3. That even after marriage we cannot live on base unless he adopts the kids. Also that they cannot live with us (regardless of a court order).
    4. That unless deployed they cannot legal force us to be separate after marriage. Also that they cannot force me to leave my children behind.
    5. Unless contested by the Children’s father. Once my fiance and I are married. The children and I can go wherever he goes unless deployed.

    • Samantha May 31, 2016, 11:52 am

      Did u ever get a answer? I have 3 kidswith a prior relationship and I will be getting married to someone in the army, we have a son together all in all 4 kids. Do u know what would happen.

  • Whitney January 22, 2016, 6:15 pm

    My husband has a child outside of the marriage. Adjustments will be made to lower child support. How soon will it change with his LES? The next pay check ?

  • claudette May 19, 2016, 1:30 pm

    I married a navy guy marriage lasted 4 years he did 4,9 month cruises in that time and our son and I never got a dime of help

  • marianne August 14, 2017, 9:54 pm

    HI, I am a grandparent that has custody of a 3 year old dependent. Dad just got out of Basic training and is off to ait for 26 weeks. Before he left we agreed on a small amount of support since the court never set anything. He is not my son. the agreement was that after he got out of basic that i would go to the child support division and let them determine child support. When I got to basic training graduation he told me that if I go to child support enforcement that they will take almost his entire check. He is an e1. So he asked me to wait to do so. I find this hard to believe, and really dont believe it. I am asking for any advice or referral to someone who would know?
    Thank you.

    • Stacey Abler August 18, 2017, 9:37 am

      You could contact JAG to see if they could offer advice? There should be a JAG office on most military posts – you don’t have to call the one where he is.

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