Those who serve in the military take an oath to protect the country against all threats, which can mean active duty service or a willingness to deploy suddenly in the event of a natural disaster or act of war. Unfortunately, upholding that oath can sometimes mean placing a lot of strain on the family that supports the military member.

Not all military marriages survive active deployments or even just someone’s period of service. Many military members find themselves needing to deal simultaneously with the stress of a military career and the end of their marriage. Learning a little bit more about the unique concerns that influence military divorces can help you better advocate for yourself as a service member or the spouse of someone in the military.

A parenting plan is of critical importance, as is flexibility

If you have kids, divorce becomes much more complicated right away. You will have to find a way to split up parenting time and legal custody, also known as decision-making authority, between you and your ex. There are also concerns such as child support to address. Making a parenting plan is a universal issue for families going through a divorce, but the way that you structure it will likely be different because of an active service member in the family.

For example, one spouse may not currently be at a point in their life where they can assume partial custody. They may have significant obligations due to their career that mean that physical custody is currently not an option. The good news is that digital communications make remote visitation possible even during active deployment. These kinds of issues must receive due consideration in the divorce of military service members.

It’s important that everyone understands the need for a modification of the terms after the service member’s deployment ends and they become more available for parenting time. The unique hurdles of shared custody involving someone facing deployment require flexibility and cooperation on the part of both parents.

Divorce can affect income and benefits for military members

Serving in the military is one of the few careers where an employer will consider your family situation while determining what is a fair compensation rate. In general, married service members can expect to receive higher pay, as well as higher allowances for housing. When the family grows to include children, that can also affect the compensation the service member receives for their work.

Divorce can have a negative impact on someone’s military income, but it is likely that the military will consider their shared custody and financial obligations to the children when adjusting their pay due to a divorce.

Depending on the length of the marriage and the financial circumstances of each spouse, it may be necessary for the service member to split their pension with their ex or at least adjust the terms of the asset division process to reflect the value of the pension at the time of divorce.