Getting a divorce is always a traumatic, especially if there are children involved and you are trying to limit the impact of the separation on them. It can be even more complex, however, if one spouse is a member of the military as this raises specific issues that need to be dealt with.
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How does a Military Divorce differ from a civilian one?
Any divorce in the UK Armed Forces follows the same legal procedure as a civilian separation: you and your spouse will need to come to an arrangement for dividing up all of your possessions and finances, as well as detailing custody and accommodation arrangements for your children.
However, there are a number of ways in which military divorces are different. One of the most important of these differences involves the HM Forces pension system which makes military divorces more complex than civilian ones, despite the fact that the divorce is still carried out in a civil court. Other issues that any lawyer dealing with a military divorce needs to understand include the boarding school allowance along with the minimum parental contribution for school costs.
Getting divorced – What will happen to my military pension?
If you are the serving spouse, you might be wondering whether your spouse has a claim on your pension. The short answer is that your pension will form part of the family assets which are available for distribution between husband and wife – or between civil partners in the case of the civil partnership dissolution. That does not mean that your spouse or civil partner will automatically be entitled to a share of your pension – but it will need to be taken into account. Whether your spouse ends up with a share of your pension or not is down to negotiation, and a court hearing in the unlikely event that some form settlement can’t be reached by agreement. Every case is different – there are a number of factors that need to be considered, including the length of the marriage or civil partnership, availability of other assets and your respective earning abilities.
Perhaps one of the most important differences between military and civilian pensions is that the average Forces pension usually forms a much larger part of the available family assets and can involve the availability of lump sum payments upon retirement and commutation. Furthermore, as most members of the armed services are probably aware, the rules on service pensions system have recently changed.
Click here to read more about how divorce could affect your military pension.
What happens to my accommodation?
If you are married, you are likely to be living in married accommodation with your spouse and children. Military personnel are sometimes able to have a trial separation period before committing to a divorce; the commanding officer has the power to allow the military spouse to live in single accommodation for a while. This allows the spouse and children to remain in the married accommodation for the length of the trial.
If the marriage cannot be fixed and divorce is on the cards, this is the point where the spouse and children would be required to move out of Forces accommodation – usually within 3 months – as only the military spouse would still be entitled to live there. This can sometimes raise issues of providing money for the spouse and children’s resettlement, so need specialist legal advice if this is likely to affect you.
If you are currently living overseas with your family and separate while you are away from the UK, the military will fly your family home.
Military divorce after retirement
As far as UK divorce law is concerned, nothing really changes after retirement from HM Forces – the same rules apply and any military pension will still need to be taken into account in assessing the family’s assets and how they should be distributed fairly.
Do I need specialist legal advice?
If you are serving in the Armed Forces and sadly come to the conclusion that you need a divorce, make sure you get legal advice from a lawyer who really understands about Forces divorce.
Your military divorce – 4 Questions to Ask Your Solicitor
Still not sure which solicitor to instruct for your military divorce? To help you reach the right decision, here are five simple questions to ask;
- How often have you dealt with military divorce? [Our family team are specialists. Divorce and family law is all they do, and around half of their caseload involves the military]
- How many military pension schemes are there? [This is really important. If they don’t know that there are three quite different military pension schemes currently running – AFPS 75, 05 and 15 – they won’t know how to deal with them properly, therefore won’t be able to get the best deal for you]
- Do the understand the practicalities of pension commutation and lump sums?
- Do they understand the rules on military accommodation for separating couples?
- Are they aware of the boarding school allowance?
Currently Serving or Retired from the British Forces? Getting Divorced? Contact our Military Divorce Lawyers today
Whether you are currently serving in the Armed Forces or have retired from the military, if you are currently thinking about getting divorced, our specialist military lawyers have the expertise you will need.
We can arrange a meeting with you at one of our offices in Hampshire, Wiltshire or Dorset .
Call us directly on  422300 or FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice or
- Book your place at our free weekly online divorce surgery using Skype video
- E-mail our team using the contact form below
Comments or questions are welcome.