Why a new partner could land you in trouble in a military divorce

Posted by Zachary A. VanDykeNov 24, 20210 Comments

Divorce can take time to finalize, and in the period between filing and signing the final divorce papers, you may meet someone else, be it for a night or forever.

Regardless of whether you are in the military or not, it pays to take care. Until the divorce is finalized, you are still technically married.

If you meet someone new, your spouse may suspect you were cheating on them all along. It might motivate them to fight harder against you in property division and custody matters. A court could also award more money to your spouse to compensate for any marital funds it considers you have spent on the new partner. If, however, you are in the military, you could face more serious consequences.

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

This article relates to what it calls “extramarital sexual conduct,” which covers various sexual acts. If accused, you could face a court-martial. Yet only if the following three conditions apply:

  •     You engaged in extramarital sexual conduct with someone 
  •     You knew either yourself or your sexual partner was married to someone else at the time
  •     Your conduct could prejudice order and discipline, the reputation of the armed forces or both

The first two conditions are clear, but the last is open to interpretation. It can depend on a range of factors, such as your rank, who knew about the relationship and how far through the divorce proceedings you were.

In short, a new relationship right now could get you into more trouble than you anticipate. It may be better to focus your energy on getting your divorce done instead — for the sake of your military career and your wallet.