Divorce is rarely easy, especially within a military marriage. Circumstances that complicate a marriage bleed over into divorce proceedings and can create seemingly uncontrollable situations. A prenuptial agreement could go a long way toward relieving these concerns and protecting servicemembers or their spouses.
Many military marriages happen quickly and often long before either party realizes the difficulty of the unique stressors military couples face. Members of the military, regardless of rank, are more likely to face divorce by age 30 than other Americans. Though a non-military divorcee is still eligible to receive benefits like healthcare and childcare, a prenuptial agreement can protect valuable benefits, including military pension, inheritance and more.
Factors complicating military divorce
Military divorce separates itself from civilian divorce by a few specific complications:
- Military pension: Military pay is more regulated than in the public sector, often restrained by rank. A military doctor just starting their career may only make $50,000 a year on active duty while a civilian doctor could earn four times as much. A military pension is a huge reward for those who serve, but it is subject to division in divorce. A prenup can protect it.
- Active duty: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows servicemembers to apply for a temporary “stay” of civil action and keep their focus on defending the country. This stay is helpful but does little to relieve tensions in a conflicted home. A prenuptial agreement can outline specific instructions including rules for divorce arbitration, power of attorney and asset division so that the divorce can progress with less distraction.
- No representation from military lawyers: Often, the most trusted legal advice a servicemember can find will be from a fellow soldier, but these lawyers cannot represent military personnel in a divorce. Servicemembers will have to find time to locate and hire a civilian lawyer for an unexpected divorce. A prenuptial agreement could determine a lawyer beforehand.
Preparation is everything
The best use of a prenuptial agreement in a military marriage is simply for peace of mind. Active duty members of the military put everything on the line to protect our country and its freedoms — it only makes sense to extend protection to themselves too. Many servicemembers looking to get married find it helpful to work with a local attorney with experience in these matters.