British Union Jack flag on army uniform

Divorce proceedings for military personnel are similar to civilian divorces, but as family team solicitor Kai Whicker explains, there are still some key differences that must be borne in mind when considering the most appropriate way to handle the divorce process and, ultimately, the division of matrimonial assets.

Armed forces pensions in particular must be considered thoroughly, often with actuarial assistance. Such pensions are administered by Veterans UK, can be complex and often carry a significant value; in many cases, the pension may be the primary asset in a marriage. It is imperative that specialist advice is sought from the outset to ensure that pensions are dealt with appropriately, and that any pension share does not have a detrimental effect on the rights of either party.

Depending on which scheme the pension holder is a member of, their rights may vary and this may subsequently alter the way in which the pension division should be approached. Members who have served over 18-20 years (depending on which scheme they are a member of) may receive Early Department Payments, which ordinarily include a lump sum payment, as well as further monthly payments until they reach retirement age. It is important to consider how any such payments may be affected if pension assets are shared.

As well as pensions, there are other circumstances, specific to military families, which should be considered in the context of divorce proceedings. For example, living arrangements usually differ from a ‘traditional’ family arrangement and separation may affect the rights which an individual receives. Military families may spend significant periods of time stationed abroad and children of military families often attend boarding schools, so it is important for any legal adviser to have an understanding of such arrangements when considering the most appropriate course of action.

If you are in the Armed forces or are married to military personnel, it is vital that you seek advice from not only a competent divorce lawyer, but one with specific knowledge and experience in dealing with such cases.