Military life presents countless challenges for couples. Servicemembers find themselves away from home for significant amounts of time. The spouse left behind is left to tend to day-to-day household duties and childcare.
Being separated statewide and globally takes its toll on a marriage. Based on various studies, including the Census Bureau, the military is one of the top 10 jobs with the highest divorce rates, whether the servicemember was deployed overseas or engaged in combat.
A difficult chapter in life
A challenging and emotionally-charged process starts when the decision comes to end a marriage. One of the primary concerns is the military benefits that the spouse will retain from commissary to health care benefits. Others include:
- Installation housing
- Moving costs
- Healthcare benefits
- TRICARE benefits for spouses and eligible children
- Spousal/child support is mandated for service members to support family members if there are no prior agreements or court orders
Certain considerations and processes exist that are unique to a military divorce. State law and local processes primarily govern divorce. Specific federal statutes and regulations may also apply to military members and their soon-to-be ex-spouses, with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act becoming a significant factor.
Options for spouses
As with civilian marital dissolutions, spouses can mediate to find a middle ground while focusing on the best interests of their children. The process is confidential and can save significant amounts of both time and money. Many soon-to-be-divorced couples take that route, while others pursue a more contentious path.
While non-military spouses can secure their own legal counsel, they and service members can use military lawyers – also known as judge advocates (JAGs) – to facilitate the process for them. Health and wellness, financial, and other resources can also help with the emotional impact of a marriage ending.