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Steven A. Mason Steven A. Mason
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Complicated Feelings and Military Divorce

Does filing for divorce still have the stigma it carried decades ago? While many Americans have come to view divorce as a situation for which we should express sympathy and kindness, some still feel there’s some dishonor in being a divorcee. In particular, according to a recent story in Stars and Stripes Magazine, stigma is just one of the complicating factors of a military divorce. Does this affect the way military families deal with family law issues?

Going Public with a Military Divorce

It’s difficult for anyone to tell friends and family about an impending divorce. While making the decision to dissolve your marriage shouldn’t have to bring about feelings of shame and disappointment, some Fort Lauderdale residents have the distinct view that getting divorced means failing to keep a marriage together. This misconception seems to be particularly pronounced in some military families. As such, it’s often difficult for military wives to “go public” with their divorces.

For instance, one military wife, Heather Sweeney, told Stars and Stripes Magazine that “going public with her military divorce was a painstaking decision.” To be sure, she didn’t tell many of her friends—also military wives—about her separation from her husband. Why? She had two primary concerns: disapproval from military friends, and being cut off from the military life she had come to know over the course of her marriage.

However, most military spouses are happily surprised by the support they receive in the aftermath of divorce. For instance, Sweeney reported that she “was so shocked by the outpouring of love and support” when she decided to write publicly about her divorce. As she described, “people told me, ‘Once a military spouse, always a military spouse.” Sweeney went on to explained she has “heard from a lot of [military] people considering divorce or struggling in their marriages.”

Another former military spouse described a similar reaction from her community. Although “the transition from military family to divided family was somewhat difficult for her children,” her ex-husband’s “military friends stepped in to help keep the children connected to military life and to other military kids with deployed parents.” While stigma might still be an issue in certain cases, it is, perhaps, more of a common misconception.

Practical Complications in a Military Divorce

Although many divorced military spouses have found their military friends and family to be supportive, there are many practical complications of a military divorce. For example, co-parenting can become very difficult when a parent in a divided family is deployed. For Sweeney, co-parenting complications have been some of the most pronounced in her divorce. Her ex-husband, who is in the U.S. Navy, was recently stationed outside the continental United States. As a result, Sweeney’s kids will spend the school year with her and the summer with her ex-husband.

Accessing children’s military benefits can also prove more complicated after divorce. Since Sweeney, for example, cannot maintain benefits as a military spouse due to the number of years she was married (under 20), it’s more difficult to handle her kids’ military benefits.

Do you have questions about how a military divorce will affect you and your family? Don’t hesitate to discuss your case with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

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