Divorcing a spouse serving abroad
Sep 5, 2017
Military life can sometimes seem a million miles away from life as a civilian.
This is especially so when it comes to relationships. Marriage can be tough, whatever the context. But where one-half of a couple is absent for periods of time because of overseas deployment, there are additional strains. That lack of physical presence and a helping hand in everyday life; the limited contact, the worry, the not knowing. Pressures can build up, even leading people to question their relationship.
This is a familiar story. As family law specialists, we often advise UK-based spouses who are looking to separate from their husband or wife who is temporarily overseas. Divorce is perfectly possible in this situation. It might take a little longer, and it almost always poses some additional legal challenges, particularly around the service of papers in different jurisdictions. But we have helped many clients divorce, on the best possible terms.
However, not everyone who comes to us with separation in mind goes on to divorce – or not straight away, anyway. And that’s usually because they decide to see the period of deployment out and wait for their partner to have spent some time at home before deciding if their marriage has irretrievably broken down.
In fact, in all but the most desperate of situations, our advice is usually to hang fire; to see how things pan out when something more akin to most people’s idea of normality resumes. Divorce is such a monumental step to take that it really does call for a clear, calm head and a good understanding and acceptance of what the process would mean for everyone involved.
But if there is one piece of advice that we would urge you to take on board now, it’s to seek out a lawyer who specialises in family law and has experience with military cases. In these circumstances, not just any family lawyer will do. Military families are not the same as civilian families. And while, on the surface, a military divorce may well look like any other divorce, the intricacies of achieving legal separation and the proper division of assets, are for lawyers who deal with the rules and the procedures day in, and day out.
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