Serving in the military is a fulfilling and unique life experience. This of course carries over to other members of the family. Unfortunately the unique lifestyle of regular deployment and relocation contributes to a high divorce rate in the armed services. When that family goes through divorce, there are specific and complex issues that come into play that civilian couples do not have to contend with.
The most important for many is the arrangements for the kids, which include custody, visitation and family care. All branches of the military have policies that require their members to provide support if there is a legal obligation. This includes honoring the terms of the divorce agreement or a court order. While military divorce involves such commonplace issues insurance coverage, housing arrangements, the division of assets, ongoing financial obligations for payments or debt maintenance, there are some specifics that are unique.
Some things to consider in establishing a military-based family care plan:
Basic allowance for housing
Along with basic pay, the military provides BAH to active personnel with a housing allowance when government housing is not available. This compensation is based on local housing market rates, pay grade and status of whether there are dependents.
All military branches require personnel to support their dependents. Spousal maintenance and child support should begin as interim support before the divorce is final. If this is unsuccessful, a judge can issue a temporary order.
Voluntary military allotments
Personnel can make an arrangement to allot a portion of their pay to an individual or institution. These are voluntary and can be amended or terminated at any time. Local child support services agencies will generally try to obtain a voluntary support agreement.
Military non-custodial parents can enroll dependents in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Once done, dependents are entitled to healthcare coverage until they are 21 years old (23 if enrolled in school). Click here for more information on how to enroll.
If you, a friend or a family member are in the military and going through the difficult and emotionally draining experience of divorce, the smart move is to consult the legal advice of the base's legal assistance office and to also seek an outside attorney who has experience with this unique process. A sure legal hand will serve the best interests of all involved to make the best of an unpleasant situation and allow everyone to move forward with their lives.