Faqs About Legal Separation While In The Military

Law Blog

As a member of the Armed Forces, legal separation from your spouse works differently than if you were a civilian. There are possible legal consequences that could have a bearing on your military career. If you are planning to file for separation, here is what you need to know. 

Is Filing Necessary?

Although legal separation is an option in civilian marriages, many people choose to just separate and then file for divorce. However, if you are in the military, it is important that you actually file the documentation required to legally separate from your spouse. 

There are several reasons legal separation is necessary, including establishing the date you and your spouse started living separately. In some states, there is a legal requirement that requires spouses to live apart a certain period of time before a divorce can be filed and finalized. A legal separation helps to prove this requirement was met. 

A legal separation also can serve as the framework for your divorce decree. For instance, you and your spouse have the opportunity to work together to create a child custodial and support order. 

Can You Face Adultery Charges?

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits adultery and carries a wide range of punishments, including dishonorable discharge. A legal separation might help to save you from facing charges. 

To face charges for Article 134, there are three elements that must be met. The three elements are:

  • Sexual intercourse with another person
  • You were married at the time of the sexual act
  • Your actions were of a nature to bring discredit to the Armed Forces

Although being legally separated will not exonerate you of these accusations, it can help build your defense. If you have not engaged in sexual intercourse with another person, but are simply dating, you can potentially avoid charges. Your commander has the authority to evaluate your situation and determine whether or not charges are necessary. 

If you are legally separated, you can argue that you and your spouse have agreed that the marriage is over and that dating another person has not negatively impacted the image of the Armed Forces. 

It is important to note that even if you do not face charges for dating, you avoid engaging in a sexual relationship with anyone until your divorce is finalized. If your Commander receives proof of the relationship, you could be in jeopardy. 

Consult with an attorney experienced in military law to find out more about legal separation. 


11 April 2016

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