Filing for divorce – both the physical process and the emotional pain – will probably be one of the most stressful things you’ll ever experience in your life, and with around half of all marriages currently ending in divorce, unfortunately it is more common than you might think. If you or your spouse is in the Armed Forces, however, it can seem a hundred times worse, especially when you’re deployed in a foreign country away from all your usual comforts and support networks. There is, however, help available to you during this difficult period of your life. Here are some things to consider when getting a military divorce.
How Does Deployment Affect Divorce?
Armed Forces divorce differs from civilian divorce in a number of ways. In the US, for example, one difference is how the whole process of divorce can be slowed down or halted if either one of a couple are deployed overseas with the US military in a foreign country under the Service Members Civil Relief Act. In fact, you can’t legally serve US divorce papers if your spouse is deployed at that time, so you will have to wait until they’re back home before you can file for divorce. It can be frustrating for serving US personnel who want to get divorced as soon as possible, but it stops default divorces from happening due to non-service members filing while their spouse is away. It’s also worth noting that your US divorce can be delayed if your spouse gets deployed once the papers have been served and the process is underway. For example, if a court hearing requires both individuals to attend, it will be postponed until the service member is back in the US.
Why Is Military Divorce Different?
Apart from the example above concerning deployment, the actual process of military divorce in either the USA or the United Kingdom is no different to civilian divorce. However, there are a number of factors which can make quite a difference. In the UK, for example, it’s really important that when getting divorced, your lawyer understands all about the rules regarding Armed Forces accommodation, the use of UK boarding school allowances under the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) scheme and most importantly of all, how to value your military pension when looking at how to share up the family assets. The UK, has seen, for example, two different pension schemes [the 1975 scheme which closed on 6 April 2005, and the post 2006 scheme) and it is really important that your family lawyer understands the difference between the two – and gets the right valuation – getting the wrong lawyer and the wrong valuation could make a huge difference to your settlement.
What Happens To Children During An Armed Forces Divorce?
Whether you’re based in the US or UK, if you’re getting a military divorce and have a child or children with your spouse, it can be difficult to imagine how it’s ever going to work. If the serving member is frequently deployed or has to move around due to base transfers, it is likely that the non-serving parent will get full custody of the child or children, but this isn’t always so. Ask your lawyer for advice concerning your own individual situation.
Finding A Lawyer That’s Right For You
If you require a lawyer or lawyer to help you with your divorce, make sure that you take the time to find one that’s right for you. A firm who employs specialist lawyers with experience in both family law and military law will be perfect, especially if they’ve dealt with cases similar to yours in the past. If you hire a lawyer who has no experience with military divorces, you could end up paying a lot of money and not getting the expertise you need in order to proceed properly, so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions when choosing your lawyer. You also need to make sure that you’re comfortable with your chosen lawyer, as you will have to spend time with them and give them private details about your married life. No matter how your divorce goes, just remember that there are people out there willing to help – from counsellors and mediators to friends and family members – so you don’t have to go through this difficult time alone.
Tim Bishop is the senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – specialist UK military divorce lawyers. For expert legal advice on any aspect of Armed Forces separation, call them now on  422300 or visit their specialist websites at http://www.armedforcesdivorce.co.uk, http://militarydivorce.co.uk and http://armydivorce.co.uk