An Army Wife's Life

Once upon a time I was a college student, then I was a teacher, and now I'm a mother. Technically, I'm currently a freelance writer... but really I am an ARMY WIFE. Expect to find... funny (at least to me) anecdotes, thoughts about la vida military, hopes, anxieties, dreams, commentaries on current events.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Military Divorce (Ask Molly)

A reader writes (details deleted to protect identities):

Dear Molly,

My husband is deployed and due to his infidelity, we are divorcing. I cannot save or keep up bills right now. He is helping with rent but not much beyond that.

I have severe medical problems that cause anxiety and panic attacks.

Is there anything I can do to have the Army help get me back home? I plan to meet with the commander.

Dear Fellow MilSpouse

First, as a fellow wife, woman, and person, I am sorry to hear about your troubles.

As a lawyer's wife, I must preface all of this with the statement that this does not constitute actionable legal advice and that your best bet is to seek out a family law practitioner in your state who is familiar with military divorce. Laws vary from state to state and the military adds another layer of complexity.

As a former FRG leader, though, there is some information I can pass along that may prove helpful.
  • You do not mention whether or not he has agreed to the divorce. As you are probably aware, he can legally delay divorce proceedings while he is deployed. Even if he is willing to proceed and you agree on everything, his deployment will most likely slow things down quite a bit. Once you have a divorce, any court orders (such as alimony or any benefits to which you are entitled) can be enforced by the military. Here is some information about those benefits for divorced military spouses. As you can see, there are various factors such as the length of his service and of your marriage.
  • The short answer to your question about the military paying for your move is no. However, indirectly, there may be a solution to your financial problems.
  • Before meeting with the commander, you may want to talk to your FRG leader if you have a competent one. The FRG leader may be able to advocate for you in the most appropriate way, especially if she is the commander's wife.
  • If you do meet with the commander I would recommend NOT approaching the commander to tell him there is a divorce in progress and you want money for moving home. Instead, I would recommend saying that despite the problems you are currently experiencing, you are still at this time his wife and you are still maintaining his household. He is receiving allowances specifically alloted for his household expenses, including BAH (which is higher because he has dependents) and a Family Separation Allowance (which he would not receive if he did not have dependents). You mention he is helping with the rent--I don't know how your rent compares to BAH, but since you are maintaining his household while he is gone, you should be getting the full BAH and the Family Separation Allowance. Ask to have these moneys directly deposited into an account in your name.

Servicemembers are expected to provide for their families while deployed. However, there is a good bit of latitude given the individual command as to how this is accomplished. So, be sure to approach the command calmly and logically--and hopefully they will make this step easier for you.

Another avenue that may be worth researching is the Exceptional Family Members Program (EFMP) on your post. I do not know if your medical conditions qualify and if they can provide any assistance, but perhaps they can help in some way. Your FRG leader or Chaplain may also be aware of other post or local programs that may able to to help you out.

Hope this information is helpful to you!

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