Family law

What is a military divorce?

Life in the services can put any relationship under pressure. Whilst the law for ending the marriage is the same as for civilians, the complexities of military life and especially military pensions means that you need to take expert legal advice.

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What is a military divorce?

If you or your spouse serves in the armed forces, there are many pressures on your relationship, whether it's a marriage or a civil partnership.

Sadly, long separations and other difficulties can lead to the irretrievable breakdown of relationships; and when that day comes, you will need expert advice to help negotiate the challenges of a military divorce.

As you might expect, the law regarding the end of the marriage itself is the same as for any civilian couple, in that the only grounds for a divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of your relationship for one of these five reasons:

Adultery: Where you must have proof that your spouse has had a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex

Unreasonable behaviour: Where your spouse's behavior is so bad that no reasonable person could live with it

Desertion: Where your spouse has been absent for more than two years in the last two and a half years without good reason or your consent

When you have lived separate lives for more than two years: This entitles you to divorce if both parties agree

When you have lived separate lives for more than five years: This entitles you to divorce even if only one party wishes to

Why are military divorces more complex?

There are three main factors that make military divorces more complicated than civilian divorces:

• Housing and Child arrangements: Where one of you is posted abroad for example, and the divorce or separation means that children may not be able to continue living in service accommodation or even in the same country as one parent

• Boarding School Allowances: Where the minimum parental contribution for school costs changes after divorce

• Military Pensions: These can be far more complicated than other types of pensions, making it harder to establish a fair Financial Settlement on divorce.

With so many types of military pensions available – from AFPS 1975 to RFPS 05 - there is a lot of information to consider.   

However, it is worth noting that courts have a number of ways in which they can structure Divorce Financial Settlements in cases of military divorce.

These include:

• No settlement: Where both parties can have a clean break because they have similar pension arrangements

• Offsetting: Where the value of pension rights is kept by whoever has earned them, and the other party gets a bigger share of other assets in order to achieve a fair settlement.

• Attachment: (in England and Wales) and Earmarking Orders (in Scotland) Where one party receives money either as a lump sum or regular payments from their former spouse's pension

• Pension sharing: Where a former spouse gets to share a pension, making them a member of the scheme in their own right

The range of pension options alone mean that getting expert military divorce advice at the earliest opportunity is essential, whether you are in the military yourself or are getting divorced from someone in the military.

Why choose Slater and Gordon's military divorce lawyers?

Our military divorce experts have the specialist knowledge you need to support you throughout the process, and help secure the best possible future for you, your spouse and any children you may have together. To find out more, call us now on 0800 780 2730 or contact us online today.

Case studies

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A father contacted our team after his daughter was taken to Egypt without his consent.