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Military Divorce

All divorces are stressful but in the case of divorces in the military, complex matters which do not typically arise in civilian divorces can make the situation extra challenging. Issues relating to military pensions, arrangements for children, service accommodation, and more can all put divorcing couples at risk of conflict.

At Crisp & Co, we provide specialist family law advice to individuals across London and the UK. As a dedicated family law firm, we have a deep, practical understanding of the pressures which commonly affect separating couples as well as specific expertise with cases of all type and complexity. Our specialist experience includes advising LGBT+ couples and international couples (for example, where you are serving overseas).

For many couples, the possibility of having to fight their corner in court can be daunting. However, one of our major goals is to help your divorce or dissolution move as smoothly as possible. The majority of divorces can be negotiated out of court nowadays. With our advice and assistance, you have the best possible chance of reaching a solution without major conflicts arising.

Our military divorce service includes providing advice and access to methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), such as family mediation and collaborative law. These methods have strong track records for helping clients arrange their divorces amicably and cooperatively.

For expert advice, get in touch with our military divorce solicitors today by giving us a call at your local branch or filling in our online enquiry form for a quick response.

Our military divorce solicitors’ expertise

Our team of highly skilled and approachable solicitors can provide advice on all aspects of armed forces divorce, including:

  • Advice on opposite-sex divorce, same-sex divorce and civil partnership dissolution
  • Advice for all current, reserve and former members of the armed forces – including Army, Royal Navy, and RAF – and non-serving partners
  • Expert advice whether you are based in the UK or overseas
  • Handling the formal application process on your behalf and providing advice on the ground for divorce and various reasons you must rely on to get your divorce approved
  • Support with armed forces divorce financial matters, including advice about military pensions
  • Arrangements for children, including where they will live and how much time they will spend with their “non-resident” parent
  • Military divorce child support and spousal maintenance
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution, including family mediation and collaborative law
  • Court Orders, including Child Arrangements Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders

Common questions about military divorce

How are military divorces different to civilian divorces?

The formal divorce process for military couples is the same as civilian divorce. For general information about the process, you can visit our divorce page. However, military divorces differ in a number of way including:

  • Military pensions - one of the biggest concerns for divorcing military couples usually relates to pensions as they tend to be more complicated than ordinary pensions
  • Accommodation - if you live in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) you will likely need to move into Single Living Accommodation (SLA) after separation
  • School fees - if your children go to boarding school their school fees will need to be taken into account during child maintenance discussions

If you require information about military divorce in the UK, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

What is the divorce rate for military couples?

Although the pressures of military life can be difficult for couples, there is no research to suggest that military divorce in the UK is higher than the general population.

If you are in the military, and you are considering getting a divorce, our expert military divorce lawyers can assist you.

How to get a divorce in the military?

The legal process of getting a military divorce is the same as civilian divorce. The differences tend to arise in the associated matters - particularly military pensions.

Since April 2022, couples have had the option of applying for a no-fault divorce, meaning that neither party is obliged to provide a reason to explain the breakdown of the marriage. Either party may apply for a divorce, or both spouses can make a joint application.

To apply it is necessary to confirm that the marriage has broken down beyond all repair, moving through the processes to obtain a Conditional Order, followed by a Final Order, confirming that the marriage has legally come to an end.

Alongside the divorce proceedings, you and your former partner should come to a decision about the division of your finances and arrangements for children. These matters can be dealt with after the divorce is finalised, however it is recommended to make these arrangements as soon as possible.

For more information about getting a divorce in the military, please get in contact with our experts at Crisp & Co today.

How long does a military divorce take?

Usually a military divorce takes around four to six months depending on various factors such as:

  • The complexity of the divorce, for example:
    • The division of military pensions can be complicated
    • If you or your partner live overseas this could make the process longer

The time it takes to finalise the divorce will ultimately depend on the individual circumstances of your case. However, we understand you are probably eager to start moving on with your life.

When you initially instruct us, we will talk you through potential time frames and how long your divorce may take. Our military divorce lawyers will also provide regular updates throughout your case, so you know exactly how it is progressing at all times.

How to calculate military pensions during divorce?

Military pensions can be taken into account as a financial resource during divorce proceedings. There are many types of pension available for military personnel, including:

  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) 15 - for personnel in service on or after 1 April 2015
  • AFPS 05 - for personnel in service between 6 April 2005 and 1 April 2015
  • AFPS 75 - for personnel in service between 1 April 1975 and 6 April 2005
  • Full Time Reserve Forces Pension Scheme (FTRSPS) 97
  • Reserve Forces Pension Scheme (RFPS) 05
  • War disablement pensions

Military pensions are distinctive because you do not have to make contributions. The scheme itself is unfunded, meaning there is no "pension pot" from which to draw money. Your pension will be earned depending on factors like your length of service, rank and how old you were when you joined the forces. Some schemes also carry significant benefits not found in ordinary pensions.

When dividing a military pension on divorce you have three options:

  • Pension Sharing
  • Pension Offsetting
  • Pension Attachment Order

Military Pension Sharing Order

Pension sharing involves a percentage of the value being transferred from the pension to the non-serving spouse. Typically, in military divorces, the length of the marriage will influence how the pension is split. For couples married at least 10 years, the split is usually equal, meaning the non-serving spouse entitlement may be at least 50%. Entitlements accrued prior to the marriage will usually not be taken into account. However, ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide whether the pension split is fair.

Pension Sharing ultimately allows a divorcing couple to achieve a "clean break". Because the non-serving partner’s proportion of the pension is transferred out of the existing scheme, both parties can move on with their lives with no ongoing financial obligations towards each other.

Military Pension Offsetting

This involves giving the non-serving partner other assets to "off-set" the value of the serving partner’s pension. If you want to keep the entirety of your pension and have a clean break from your partner, this is probably the best option for you. However, it is only possible if you own other assets which amount to the value of your pension. For many divorcing couples, the only other asset which could offset the pension is the family home.

Military Pension Attachment Order

This gives the non-serving partner an entitlement to a share of the serving spouse’s pension at the point they start drawing their benefits. For many, this option is not the most attractive because it does not allow for a clean break between the parties and the serving partner will retain full control over the pension.

If you are approaching a military divorce, and have any questions about your pension, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our divorce solicitors at Crisp & Co.

Child Maintenance in military divorce

Another consideration for military families is child maintenance. Because many military families frequently move around, their children often attend boarding schools. Military personnel are usually entitled to reduced tuition fees, however, the question remains – how will school fees be paid upon divorce?

The divorcing couple must come to a decision on this matter, and other areas of the children’s upbringing. Usually, couples are able to make these decisions out of court using mediation or collaborative law sessions.

However, in the event you cannot come to an agreement, we can provide advice about using the Child Maintenance Service or applying to court for a Child Maintenance Order.

If you are concerned about the impact of your divorce on your children, our expert military divorce solicitors can provide the assistance that you need.

For more information about getting a divorce in the military, our military divorce lawyers can help.

How does divorce work in the military?

If you would like to obtain a military divorce, the process is the same as a standard divorce.

You will be able to apply for a no-fault divorce, by completing an application form and stating that your marriage has broken down, irretrievably. You will then move through the divorce processes, obtaining a Conditional Order and then a Final Order, to end the marriage.

Whilst the process is essentially the same, there are associated matters which may require specialist legal support, including child arrangements and military pensions.

If you require help with these issues, please contact our military lawyers at Crisp & Co.

How much does a military divorce cost?

The cost to obtain a military divorce is the same as a civilian divorce, you will need to pay a set fee of £593 for the divorce application.

It is likely that you will require legal support to arrange various aspects of your divorce, including obtaining a financial settlement and making child arrangements. The fee that you incur for this will depend on your chosen solicitor, the method of support (whether mediation or collaborative law etc.) and the level of assistance required.

If you are getting a divorce in the military, and would like to discuss your fees, please contact our specialist solicitors.

Get advice from our specialist military divorce solicitors

For expert advice on military divorce, get in touch with our military divorce solicitors today. You can give us a call at your local Crisp & Co office or fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.