In many divorces, some would say most or even all divorces, there is emotional hardship. The adults and the children can both suffer sadness, lack of self-esteem and other even serious mental and physical problems.
But that may not be the half of it. In all marriage breakdowns and this includes military marriage breakdowns, the economic issues can be hugely important.
One of the benefits of being in the military is that you can be paid over and above your basic salary for such things as higher duties, moving to certain places and being in a war-zone. In these situations your family receives a number of important benefits. There can be cheap housing, medical benefits and childcare facilities. All of these things add value to the quality of life for the member of the military and his or her family.
So when divorce enters the scene, not only will there be the sadness and family bust-up, the economic changes can mean a much different lifestyle. Your life will not be the same and may be a whole lot worse.
The rules and regulations surrounding any divorce can be detailed and complex. They certainly are with a military allowance. Whilst the issue of the divorce and who gets what are decided in a civil court, the military itself has strict rules and regulations on how the many benefits which flow to a member of the military and their family will be affected once a divorce kicks in.
Let's assume the non-military spouse obtains custody of the child or children with the military spouse gaining access for certain periods of time throughout the year. This is a common situation.
But let's also assume that the now ex-military spouse had, up until the divorce was granted, been living on the military base with all the benefits which accrue from such a marriage. All that will now change. The military is first and foremost a fighting machine. It is not a social welfare agency.
Now that does not mean the military is some heartless landlord who will cast the poor wife and children out into the snow. No, but...
The subsidized housing, health care and childcare facilities are for those families which are united families. If the court decrees the children are to be cared for by one spouse and that the family is no longer together, all the military benefits may disappear.
The likely scenario is that the non-military spouse will have to find private accommodation which is most likely not on the base. Let's assume there is a household of furniture and children's possessions - toys, books, clothes, etc. Not only does the now ex-spouse have to find a new home, they have to move all their goods to this new abode.
That's not cheap and if the move covers some distance, the costs of the move can be expensive. The couple may agree to share the costs but if it does not involve the military spouse being re-located, then the military is unlikely to make any contribution to the costs. Remember the military is constantly paying allowances for its members moving from base to base. In this particular case, the member ain't going anywhere.
This is a clear warning to those considering a military divorce. By engaging a lawyer with considerable experience in military divorce matters, the spouse will aim to have the new economic hardship hurdles removed, at least in part, as part of any divorce settlement. Prepare well and reduce your expenses.
But it's not just the relocation allowance. The military offers many allowances and add-ons and most if not all of these will disappear once the couple divorce. And it's not just the non-military spouse who needs to be aware of the economic changes.
Let's assume the military spouse has been granted accommodation. If the family split and the military spouse is now a single person, a large house for one person will not be tolerated and it's back to single accommodation. Immediately the lifestyle will change. But that's not all. Tax savings by having a spouse and dependant children may vanish also. Both spouses need to be prepared for the changes caused by going through with a divorce.
Then there's the drop in pay for both sides of the family if the military member's job description changes. A military spouse undertaking hazardous duties or who is appointed to a theatre of war receives additional pay. A change in job will mean that pay is lost. If the state court has ordered that a certain amount of the military spouse's pay be given to the ex-spouse and the child or children, a whole new economic ballgame looms large.
There are restrictions on how much the military spouse has to pay as a percentage of their income, but a drop in pay will make it hard. In fact many spouses involved in a military divorce have found themselves in an economic mess. Don't let this situation happen to you.
Another spin-off from a military divorce is the removal of tax-free allowances. The divorce will mean the end of most if not all allowances and as they may well have been tax free, the loss is compounded. The housing allowance and the subsistence allowance are tax free. So not only do the spouses lose the allowances, the allowances were worth much more because they were tax free. Now food and shelter suddenly gets a whole lot more expensive.
You have to move, find new accommodation, pay full price for groceries and pay medical fees. There is a great need to plan well with expert advice before any divorce proceeds. Once the military are advised that the couple is legally divorced, the wheels of motion begin moving to order people from housing and paymasters to alter pay slips.
The only safe way to avoid an economic meltdown is to plan well for life after divorce. How can you save on all manner of expenses? Can you make the divorce orders cover aspects such as moving house?
The divorce itself can be messy and draining. Work hard and be smart to make sure the aftermath of the divorce provides as soft a landing as possible.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in:
Read more Military Divorce
If you're in the USA and there's no property or finances to settle, then you can do it yourself. There's a number of places online where you can carry out a divorce (which is much cheaper than going through the courts and lawyers). Legal Zoom's 3-Step Divorce Process
can provide quick and easy online divorces.
United Kingdom Military Divorce
Australia Military Divorce
If you plan to get a divorce in Australia, the Aussie Divorce Services
can guide you.