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Separation for Armed Forces personnel

Going through a relationship breakdown can be an extremely stressful situation. However for those either serving in the armed forces or married to someone in the armed forces, there are additional considerations to factor in. This blog aims to set out these additional issues.

Following the breakdown of a relationship, the immediate concern for military personnel is accommodation. Serving personnel can move out of their accommodation for up to 93 days before making a decision regarding their relationship status. This is known colloquially as the “cooling off period” where a couple can come to the decision as to whether their relationship will continue. After that period the Loss Entitlements team will need to be contacted and then serve the non-serving individual a notice to vacate from their service accommodation. During that time, the serving party will need to maintain any accommodation costs. In certain circumstances the period of notice can also be extended.

Another important factor to consider when separating is the parties’ finances. For couples where one or more parties are in the military, pensions are possibly the biggest asset they hold. What complicates matters is that there are 3 separate schemes, the armed forces pension scheme 1975, the Armed forces Pension scheme 2005 and Armed forces pension scheme 2015 . Which scheme the member will be part of will be dependent on when the member joined. For those members receiving a war pension before 2005 or receiving monies from the armed forces compensation scheme after April 2005, these are protected by the courts and cannot be split. However, the Courts can consider the same when looking as a marital pot on the whole. Further, this is only likely to form part of the members overall pension entitlement. 

The Courts primary consideration is needs: The parties’ housing needs, their income needs to support themselves and, if applicable, the needs of any children, with the party who is caring for the children more, generally needing more of the marital pot to support themselves and the children. 

It is for this reason that advice at the earliest stage of the process is recommended.

At HCB we are able to offer advice on all areas of Family Law.