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Planning for a deployment divorce

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A stressful military marriage faces even more problems when an active duty spouse is on deployment. The service member may return accompanied with a desire for ending their marriage and seeking a military divorce. Their deployment time presents an opportunity for planning for this.

First, active-duty military spouses may receive free counseling before divorce. Counselors can help with caring for the children, dealing with stress and handling overwhelming issues such as a spouse's infidelity or fear or guilt over their dangerous assignment.

Next, documents are very important and can play an important role in discovery and any court proceedings. A spouse often has access to documents that are unavailable to their deployed spouse such as financial statements, insurance policies, home mortgages, bills, tax returns, vehicle titles and investments. Copies should be made and provided to the spouse's attorney.

As part of this review, a spouse should prepare a monthly post-divorce budget keeping in mind that the family will have to live on one income instead of two. This budget can also help determine goals and strategies for settlement negotiations or court hearings. Document review is also important because a spouse must fully disclose their finances and assets.

Texas also requires a couples to be legally separated for at least 60 days. During deployment, a spouse should comply with this requirement or may have to wait until the deployment is over before the separation period begins.

This time is also an opportunity to begin planning for life after divorce. This includes possible relocation and using military benefits such as benefits in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, the service member's pension and the Survivor Benefits Plan.

A spouse should consult an attorney who can provide options, advise and support for these issues. A lawyer can help assure that a spouse can seek a fair and reasonable decree or settlement and protect their rights under federal and Texas laws.

Source: Miitary.com, "6 steps though a deployment divorce," By Matt Hamel, Esquire, Accessed Jan. 29, 2018

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