Five-Step Guide for Military Members Planning Divorce While Stationed Overseas

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Soldier toys with compass on map,war concept.

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It is no secret that military service can be hard on marriage. For those serving in overseas duty stations or on deployment, this can be even worse due to long gaps between communication and the potential for infidelity and other obstacles to a successful marriage. It is sad to see a marriage end, especially when one spouse is thousands of miles away serving in the military. If you have made the decision to get divorced while still stationed abroad or while on a deployment, there are some things you should be doing right now to prepare for your divorce when you get home.

At Five Points Law Group, we are committed to serving those who serve our country. We know that our fighting men and women put their lives on the line every day, so when it is time for you to take the next step in your divorce, we are here to help make things as smooth and painless as possible. Nothing will make it easy, but the help of an experienced Birmingham divorce lawyer can often speed things up and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Step 1: Prepare Mentally

This is going to be tough. Build a support group, talk to a Chaplain or other trusted individual who can help you build up your emotional and psychological reserves for what lies ahead. You need to be focused 100% on your military objectives, so if you are unfocused or in emotional turmoil, you only put yourself and others at risk.

Step 2: Talk to a Lawyer Immediately

This may be tougher for some than others, but in today’s high-tech world, most service members have fairly frequent access to the Internet or telephone communications. Contact an experienced divorce lawyer near your home in the U.S. There are several reasons you want to do this early:

  • Jurisdiction: You need to make sure you know exactly what jurisdiction applies. Do not assume that you can file for divorce in the state where you are stationed.
  • Cost: By speaking to a lawyer early, you can begin to put together a plan for paying for your divorce. This may require you to budget your funds carefully while overseas.
  • Information: An attorney can help you develop a plan for gathering the necessary paperwork and information you will need in order to file for divorce.

Step 3: Paperwork

Perhaps the single most difficult part of preparing a divorce while stationed overseas is that you do not have access to everything you need. For instance, you may be depending on your spouse back home to handle the budget, pay the bills, and make financial decisions while you are away. You may have limited access to banking information, investments, retirement plan documents, and other important items that will be necessary while filing for divorce. Now is the time to begin making a list of the important documents you will need, and maybe even have your attorney or a trusted friend back home gather these on your behalf.

Step 4: Privacy

Depending on your situation, it may be wise to get off of social media for a while. Or, at a minimum, enhance privacy settings. Also, make sure that you change any and all passwords on the following:

  • E-mail addresses
  • Social media accounts
  • Online banking or retirement plan accounts
  • Any other online accounts or logins that you want to be private

Never communicate with an attorney via e-mail unless you are 100% sure that your spouse cannot access that email account. Assume your spouse knows your login and change it immediately.

Step 5: File Your Petition

Once you have got everything in place, you can often use a power of attorney to handle much of the legwork back home. An experienced attorney can often help you file for divorce even while you are still stationed overseas. In some cases, such as when a trial may be necessary, you will have to wait in order to complete the divorce when you get back.

If your permanent duty station is located in Alabama or you and your spouse are from the Birmingham area, contact a local divorce lawyer from Five Points Law Group to discuss your options today.

Heather Fann
Heather Fann
Heather's practice seeks to preserve the dignity of clients through healthy paths for their changing families, employing both modern and traditional means of resolution including collaborative practice and methods such as use of Parenting Coordinators, as well as mediation, though she stands ready to litigate where necessary.

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