Separation & Divorce

Contents

01   What happens when we decide to separate?

Your soldier’s Local Service Commander may allow a ‘cooling off’ period (up to a maximum of three months) where the Service person can move into Single Living Accommodation (SLA,) or private accommodation, but will continue to pay SFA charges.

After the ‘cooling off’ period or as soon as it becomes apparent that there will not be reconciliation, the serving person then needs to change their Personal Status Category (PStat category)

Back to top

02   When does the Service person have to change their PStat category?

As soon as you have decided to formally separate, the Service person should inform their unit of their change in PStat category.

Back to top

03   Can I ask the Unit Welfare Office for support even though we are separated?

Each Unit Welfare Office may deal with things differently but should provide information and support to families transitioning from Army to civilian life, including information on vacating the SFA and removals.

Other agencies also offer support and advice, such as:

Back to top

04   Housing

When do I need to move out of my SFA?
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Loss of Entitlement Team can offer support during this period. Click here for more information.

Once the Service person has informed their unit of their change of PStat category, the unit will inform the CarillionAmey Occupancy Services Team. They will then issue a Notice to Vacate, giving you 93 days to leave the SFA.

The 93 days are up in the middle of my son’s GCSEs, can we retain our SFA until they’re finished?
To retain your SFA longer than the 93 days, you must complete the Proportionality Form, and submit it to the Irregular Occupancies Team with all the relevant information and supporting evidence.

Where do I live now?
There are different housing options, such as private rental, Housing Association housing and social housing. Social housing is not easily accessible in many areas, and it is important to consider all possible options and locations.

Local Authorities do have a duty of care to house homeless people, but it may be in a B&B or hostel rather than a permanent house.

How do I apply for social housing?

  • Talk to your current Local Authority and register as homeless
  • Your Notice to Vacate should be taken as proof of homelessness
  • Talk to the Local Authority you want to move to – they may allow direct applications
  • Talk to your Local Authority’s homeless department and ask a Housing Officer to outline other housing options
  • Talk to Citizens Advice to ensure you know what housing and other benefits you’re entitled to
  • Contact the Joint Service Housing Advice Office who can offer information on your civilian housing options

When I move out, will the Army pay for my removals?
If your family has separated and is moving out of your SFA, you get your removals paid for. Your Unit Welfare Officer should help you apply for removals through Agility. However, if you subsequently reunite and move back in together, you have to pay for this removal yourself.

My spouse has left me and I am still in the SFA. Can I stop them coming into the SFA?
Once their Pstat category has been changed, the spouse becomes the licencee of the SFA, although the Service person will still be required to pay for it.

There should ideally be a mini handover from the Service person to the spouse on separating, so keys may be handed over then but as the Service person still pays for the SFA, the legal basis of whether they can enter is unclear.

Will the Army provide suitable accommodation for my estranged serving partner so the children can stay with them at weekends/holidays?
Divorced Service personnel who do not have full or sole custody of their children are not currently entitled to SFA unless there is a surplus available, which is rare in most areas.

They can use contact/welfare houses, where available. Otherwise, DIO has no responsibility for providing accommodation for single/divorced personnel to have visits from their children.

Back to top

05   Finances & Pensions

What financial help am I entitled to?
Once a spouse has vacated your SFA and moved into your own accommodation, there are no Service-based entitlements available.

For details on what benefits you may be entitled to and how to split savings, pensions etc. contact the following support agencies for useful advice:
Citizens Advice
SSAFA
MoneyForce – Divorce and Separation
Royal British Legion
Money Advice Service – Divorce and Separation
Turn2us

Am I entitled to my ex-Service partner’s pension?
During this very stressful period, it is wise to think clearly about your future finances and ensure they are sorted before the Decree Absolute.

The Armed Forces Pension can be the biggest asset in the divorce, so it is important this is settled before the divorce is finalised; it will be very difficult to access any of your spouse’s pension after the Decree Absolute.

As each divorce settlement is individual to each couple, it is best to seek professional legal advice from someone with knowledge of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS). The Law Society website can help with this search.

It is important to highlight that, due to the Armed Forces lifestyle, spouses encounter barriers to employment and therefore cannot fully build their own personal pension; this needs to be taken into account when looking at future finances.

The Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel (SIIAP), which is endorsed by the MOD, can signpost you to specialist providers.

In order to split the pension fairly, the first step is to find out what the pension is worth. Veterans UK provide lots of information about the Armed Forces Pensions and Divorce, including getting a pensions valuation and Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV).

For more information, see:
Pension Benefits on Divorce and Dissolution of Civil Partnerships
www.gov.uk – Pension sharing charges

Some of the more common ways to deal with the pension are:

  • Pension sharing – you are awarded a percentage of share of your ex-partner’s pension
  • Pension’s attachment – you receive an agreed amount of your ex-partner’s net pension income or a lump sum when the pension starts being paid to them
  • Pension offsetting – the value of the pension is offset against your other assets, e.g. you may keep a share of shared property in exchange for your ex-partner keeping their pension

Contact the Forces Pension Society or Laura Lewin, the AFF Employment, Training, Allowances and Money Specialist at etam@aff.org.uk for further advice.

For more information, see:
Pension on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. Charging regime
The Pensions Advisory Service – When relationships end – Divorce, dissolution and separation

Where can I get advice about child maintenance payments?
Child Maintenance Options is a free service that provides impartial information and support to help separated parents make decisions about their child maintenance arrangements, e.g. child maintenance payments. The service is provided on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

What if I divorce in Scotland?
In England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the total value of the pension benefits you have each built up at the date of the divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership is taken into account. This is all of your pensions, whether you built them up before or during your marriage/civil partnership.

In Scotland, only the value of the pensions you have both built up during your marriage or civil partnership is taken into account. This means that anything built up before you were married/became civil partners or anything built up after your date of separation does not count. Your pensions will be valued at the date of separation.

Back to top

06   Overseas

What if we separate overseas? Do I still only have 93 days to move out?
If your family moves back to the UK following an estrangement when posted overseas, you have an entitlement to 93 days occupation of the nearest available SFA to your preferred area of choice in the UK – or you can have the balance of 93 days if the change of your soldier’s PStat form had been signed prior to your return to the UK.

Be aware that the allocation of an SFA to an estranged spouse/civil partner after change in PStat category may be seen by Local Housing Authorities (LHA) as re-housing and may prejudice LHA housing allocations. For this reason, try to delay the change in PStat category until you return to the UK and are allocated an SFA.

How do I get a divorce in BFG?
Contact Headquarters Army Legal Assistance (HQ ALA), which is based in Bielefeld, Germany and offers free legal advice to all British Army personnel, their dependants and UK based civilians serving overseas. ALA can deal with matters under English and German law; their Legal Officers are qualified solicitors and barristers, and they have German para-legal advisers who can offer assistance with German legal issues.

I am a divorced Service person posted overseas, will the Army pay for my children to visit?
The current rules state that divorced Service personnel are not entitled to funded School Children’s Visits for their children to visit them overseas.

We have children from a previous relationship but am now married to a Service person who has been posted overseas for their next job. Do I have to get permission to take my children from my previous relationship with us?
If you have children from a previous relationship that you wish to take overseas, whether as a spouse or as a Service person, it is best to seek professional legal advice as you will need permission from the other parent.

Back to top

What our families say about AFF

“AFF - just a thank you for all that you do!!”

“What an awesome organisation”

“Thank you so much Army Families Federation!”

Find out more
7,151enquiries received between January and June 2018
1,354responses to our UK Disturbance Expense quick poll
27,120 unique website views during October
100%positive feedback at our Foreign & Commonwealth events