Military Divorce

Military divorce can often be very difficult to manage despite it having the same basic concept of a normal divorce. Despite the process of a military divorce being like a nor civilian divorce there are a number of differences which are explored below. Our divorce law specialists possess a vast amount of all issues relating to divorce and are able to assist you with your divorce from start to finish.

Article Contents

What is military divorce?

A military divorce is a process which applies to a spouse serving in the military or armed forces. In order to be considered for military divorce either you or your partner must be serving in the armed forces. A military divorce can apply to couples who are married or those that have entered a civil partnership.

What is the common cause for a military divorce?

Serving in the military or armed forces can often involve you being posted to a different area, a different region or a different country from your family and loved ones. Unfortunately, these long separations together with the long working hours can often be the leading cause of a marital or relationship breakdown.

How do you file for a military divorce?

Our military divorce lawyers, from their years of experience, have noted that the process for obtaining a military divorce is the same as a normal civilian divorce. The process of a military divorce involves one partner submitting a petition to the court in order to end their marriage or civil partnership.

Once a divorce petition has been submitted to the family court and issued, a copy of the petition is sent to the other partner who is required to respond to the petition by confirming whether they agree to the divorce or wish to contest the divorce. Once a response to the petition is provided within 8 days and your partner agrees to the divorce or termination of the civil partnership then you will be able to make an application for the Decree Nisi. This decree essentially confirms that the courts agree that the separating parties can divorce.

If however your spouse fails to agree to the divorce and is looking at defending the divorce petition then the process can become lengthy given that court hearings may be required to determine the issues of the divorce.

Once a decree nisi has been obtained the parties will need to wait for a period of 43 days in order to apply for the Decree Absolute. This decree is the final order confirming that a marriage or civil partnership has been legally terminated. Our military divorce lawyers at Kabir Family law will be able to assist you with your military divorce at any stage of your divorce.

What are the legal grounds for obtaining a military divorce?

A partner looking to obtain a military divorce can only rely on one ground for divorce like a normal civilian divorce. In order to legally divorce the parties must be able to satisfy the court that a marriage or relationship has broken down irretrievably. In order to satisfy this ground of divorce the parties can rely on one or more of the following reasons for a separation:

  • This is where you are alleging your partner has had a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex;
  • This applies where your partner has left you for more than 2 years in the last 2 and a half years without your consent or a valid reason;
  • 2 years separation with consent. This is providing both partners agree;
  • 5 years separation. For this reason, the consent of the other spouse is not required in order to petition for the divorce; or
  • Unreasonable behaviour. This reason for a divorce is commonly used and covers scenarios where your partner has behaved in an unreasonable manner following which a reasonable person could not continue living with them.

How long does a military divorce take to complete?

As with all divorces a military divorce can take up to 6 months to conclude. However, this estimate is dependent on factors such as whether the divorce is contested and whether your partner lives overseas. Furthermore, a military divorce may take longer to conclude given that military pensions can be complicated and not as straightforward to split as normal civilian pensions. Our military divorce lawyers will be able to provide you with information on the procedure of your military divorce and your military pensions during your initial consultation. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, then contact our military divorce lawyers today for a free initial consultation in which we can provide you tailored advice relating to your personal circumstances.

How do military divorce financial settlements differ to a normal divorce?

When compared to a normal civilian divorce a military divorce is often more complicated. This is purely because of the military divorce entitlements in relation to pensions. Military pensions is often the largest asset in a military divorce. Military pensions carry many additional benefits which are often not included in a normal pension. As a result of this military divorce entitlements can be difficult to calculate. With over years of experience our military divorce lawyers can assist you in reviewing your military pension and assist you with calculating your finances to ensure you receive a fair and reasonable share of your military divorce entitlements.

Furthermore, unlike normal pensions, with military pensions you do not have to make pension contributions. The pension is dependent on the following factors:

  • Your length of service
  • Your age of when you joined the military; and
  • Your rank in the military or armed forces.

What are the types of military pensions?

It is commonly known that military pensions are one of the most generous pension schemes in the United Kingdom. There are 3 Armed Forces Pensions Schemes (AFPS) for people serving in the military and armed forces. These are:

  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) 75
  • Armed Forces Pension scheme (AFPS) 05
  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) 15.

If you joined or commissioned as a member of the Armed Forces prior to April 2005 you will automatically be in the AFPS 75 scheme. The Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 75 was closed to new members from the 6th April 2005.

If you joined the military or were commissioned as a member of the Armed Forces after the 6th April 2005 you will automatically be enrolled on the Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 05 scheme. This scheme was closed to new members from the 31st March 2015.

If you joined the military or were commissioned as a member of the Regular Armed Forces  and Reserve Forces from the 1st April 2015 you will automatically be enrolled on the Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 15 scheme.

How is the Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 75 pension calculated?

The AFPS 75 is calculated based on your final rank you achieved and the length of your service. The AFPS 75 scheme does not take your actual pay. If you or your partner served in the military then you or your partner will be awarded the same pension with members of the same rank and the same number of years of service as you. This is also known as the representative rate of pay for the rank.

This representative pay is calculated using the selected rates of military salary. The representative pay does not include any extra amounts which members with special qualifications may be earning.  The pension is paid in accordance to the standard rates of pension and includes and additional supplements for armed forces members that qualify. The AFPS 75 starts to build up from the day you are paid up to a maximum of 34 years for officers and 37 years for other ranked members. The pension built up each year is added together to form the basis of the pension a served member receives upon retiring.

In addition to the annual pension military personnel also receive a one-off pension lump sum which is three times your annual pension. This lump is tax free.

How is the Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 05 pension calculated? 

Pensions under the AFPS 05 scheme are based on a final salary scheme. This is based on the amount you were earning at the time of retiring or leaving your service. With this scheme a maximum of 40 years’ service can be counted towards your pension. You will also receive a one off pension lump sum which is three times the value of your annual pension.

How is the Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 15 pension calculated?

The Armed Forces Pensions Scheme (AFPS) 15 differs from the AFPS 75 and AFPS 05. The AFPS 15 military pension scheme is calculated using your average earning of your career with the armed forces. This system is known as the Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE). The pension is built from your fairs day of service into a pension pot. The pension pot usually increases each year with inflation and the length of your service. The pension pot becomes the pension you will receive.

Unlike the AFPS 75 and AFPS 05 you do not receive a one-off lump sum payment with your pension.

How is military spouse divorce retirement pay obtained?

It is important to note that military and armed forces pensions are paid by Veterans UK.  A military pension is only paid to the person who has served in the armed forces. The Veterans UK will not make a pension payment to a spouse unless a court has ordered for the pension to be paid to them.

In order to obtain military spouse divorce retirement pay an application needs to be made to the court for financial settlement in respect of the financial assets.

Does my wife get half my military retirement?

With regards to a military spouse divorce retirement pay there is no set formula as to how the pension is to be divided between the separating couple. The military divorce entitlements depend on the length of marriage. Where the couple has been married or involved in a civil partnership for a large amount of time your wife, husband or partner may receive half of your military retirement. In such cases it is likely that your military pension will be divided equally.

If, however your marriage lasted short time, then the pension may not be divided equally or at all which means your wife may not get half of your military retirement or any military divorce entitlements at all.

In some instances, some separating couples may try and apportion the pension which was built during the marriage or civil partnership. This therefore means that the military retirement may not be separated equally and the full value of the military or armed forces pension may not be considered.

How is military retirement pay calculated for divorce?

When considering military divorce entitlements and military spouse divorce retirement pay are 3 ways in which the military retirement pay can be calculated for divorce. These are:

Military Pension Attachment Order

This method of calculating military spouse divorce retirement pay is often the least used method. A military pension attachment order provides the serving partner full control of their pension. A non-serving partner, who is looking to claim military divorce entitlements under this method, is only entitled to a share of the pension at the point the pension is drawn for benefits. A clean break may not be possible for partners dividing the military pension using this method as the partners will only receive the pension once it is drawn out.

Military Pension Sharing order

Under a military pension sharing order a certain percentage of the pension is shared between the separating partners. This involves a serving member transferring the agreed percentage to their partner. By using this method of pension sharing partners can obtain a clean break. The reason for this is that the military divorce entitlements are transferred out and parties can continue with their lives.

The percentage for the pension sharing order will be set out in a court order and will also be reflected on the Pension sharing Annex. These documents are issued to the Service Personnel & Veterans Agency who will implement the military pension sharing order within 4 months.

Military Pension Offsetting

This process of dividing military spouse divorce retirement pay is available where there are other assets for division. The partner serving in the military and armed forces may want to retain their entire military pension and may want to offset this against other available assets. Given that the value of the military pensions are quite high the only asset which may be suitable to offset the military pension may be the matrimonial home.

How our military divorce lawyers can help you?

At Kabir Family Law, our military divorce lawyers can assist you in dealing with your military divorce. From the very first consultation we shall be able to provide you with assistance on understanding the ground for divorce and the reasons relied upon to show the court the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Our military divorce lawyers can also assist you in completing your divorce petition and making a claim for your military divorce entitlements. With many years of experience, we able to consider your military pension documents and provide advice on the way your military spouse divorce retirement pay is divided. By working alongside you at your convenience we can assure you will be able to obtain a swift divorce or terminate your civil partnership and ensure you obtain a fair financial settlement.

Did you know we also assist spouses and partners of military personnel to obtain the value of the pension from the Armed Forces Pensions Scheme and assist with implementing the pension sharing. Our military divorce lawyers can assist you regardless of whether you are based in the UK or overseas. As well as offering a face to face and telephone advice, we also assist you through Skype & Zoom to ensure you able to receive the benefit of our experience on military divorces.

Our military divorce lawyers at Kabir Family Law provide a 5% discount for serving and retired HM Armed forces personnel as well as to MoD employees. You can gain advantage of this discount by requesting this during your initial consultation and subsequently by providing proof of your service. You will need to quote ‘MoD5%EK’ when contacting us to have the 5% discount applied together with providing proof of MoD employment.

— Q&A SECTION — 

Will a pensions Actuary or a financial adviser need to be consulted when calculating military spouse divorce retirement pay and military divorce entitlements?

At Kabir Family Law we can assist you in calculating and considering the transfer value of your pension. We can assist you by contacting the Armed forces Pensions Scheme to obtain your pension value and assist you in reviewing the benefits which are attached to your military pension.  However, a pension actuary or an independent financial adviser may need to be consulted for the Royal Air Force Personnel. These professionals would be able to advise you on whether all the benefits under your pension are reflected in the transfer value.

Contact Kabir Family Law today to benefit from a free initial consultation

Our family specialists provide themselves in assist clients with all their enquiries in relation to their divorce. By focusing on family law only we ensure all our experience, skills and knowledge are used to provide you the best advise possible in order to achieve your desired outcome. Should you be serving in the armed forces or are subject to a military divorce then contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.

Our military divorce lawyers and family lawyer in Oxford, as well as nationally, will ensure you receive the advice and assistance you need whether you are a serving member of the armed forces or whether you are pursuing a divorce and financial settlement against a partner who has served or is serving in the armed forces. Did you know we also offer a 5% discount for serving and retired members of the HM Armed Forces personnel and MOD employees. Why not contact us today to take advantage of this and obtain the quality advice and assistance you need.