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A difficult topic: Has your military spouse abandoned you?

When you got married, you were happy to give up your career to stay home and raise a family in full support of your spouse's military service. You may have felt, as many military wives might agree, that you were also making personal sacrifices to serve your country by providing a strong support system and foundation for a stable home front while your spouse carried out duties stateside or overseas.  

The moment you realized your spouse left and wasn't coming back may be deeply etched in your memory; perhaps it replays itself over and over again in your mind, especially since you had no warning that your life was going to be forever changed in an instant. As a military wife, you always knew there was a risk that your spouse might fall during combat or suffer injury (even fatality) in training; however, the last thing you expected to happen was for your partner to intentionally abandon you and your children.  

Abandonment versus divorce 

There's a difference between filing for divorce and waiting around all day for a spouse to come home. If there was no divorce, then you are still technically married. To that end, you are still entitled to military benefits because you are still a military wife.  

Requirements as per military branch 

In the absence of a court order or signed agreement, the U.S. military demands that its members provide for their spouses and children in the event of separation. Each branch of military service has its own requirements and policies regarding such matters. Most of these requirements are temporary, so if such circumstances apply to you, you may want to learn more about how to seek an official court order for spousal support and maintenance as well as child support.  

Exceptions to the rule 

In certain circumstances, your spouse may be able to secure a waiver from having to provide you with financial support. That would be unlikely in the case of a spouse/parent who gave up a career to stay home full time because a waiver is typically granted to military members whose incomes are less than their spouses'. Another exception would be if the abandoning spouse shows evidence of domestic abuse.

Whether you live on or off base, there are no doubt local resources you can tap into for support so that you and your children can obtain the assistance you need to cope with your situation and provide for your temporal, emotional and financial needs.

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