If you are considering separating and live in SFA, the 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
The policy states that the licensee (PStatCat 1s) would move out into SLA (or another SFA if changing to PStatCat 2).
However, if both parties agree and the other partner (PStatCat 5s) agrees to move out earlier, there is scope in policy for the current PStatCat 1s to remain in the SFA.
As soon as you have decided to formally separate, Service personnel need to inform their unit of their change in PStat category.
Both partners should be offered an interview with the welfare staff or chain of command. A record of the interview should be signed by both partners before any change of PStat category. This is to ensure that all parties are aware of the change, as this may affect their entitlements to housing and allowances.
Service personnel in established long-term relationships do not need to change their PStat category but are responsible for notifying their unit of any change in personal circumstances.
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:
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Loss of Entitlement Team can offer support during this period. See gov.uk/guidance/defence-infrastructure-organisation-service-family-accommodation#loss-of-entitlement for more information.
Once the PStat category has been changed, the unit and Service person must inform the Home Services Team. DIO will then issue a Notice to Vacate (NTV), giving 93 days to leave the SFA.
The following information will be included in your NTV pack – it is very important that you read all of it and complete and return the necessary forms as quickly as possible. Where letters/forms are generic we have included a link for you to access – all other forms will be specific to your property.
Notice to Vacate
Certificate of Cessation
DIO Accommodation Privacy Notice
Proportionality Exercise Assessment Form
Notice to Vacate – FAQ’s
Policy Fact Sheet: Duty to refer specified public authorities
Return any forms to the following address: LOE Team, SHQ, RAF Honington, Bury St Edmunds, IP31 1EE
You can’t officially retain the SFA but on a case by case basis you may be able to request to remain in the SFA for longer than the 93 days you receive under your Notice to Vacate (NTV). You must complete the Proportionality Form, and submit it to the Irregular Occupants Team with all the relevant information and supporting evidence.
Retaining housing overseas on educational grounds is more challenging and should be discussed as early as possible with your welfare team.
If you are single without sole custody of children, you will no longer be entitled to SFA and would be expected to move back into SLA from the start of the NTV.
You will be expected to continue to pay for the SFA during the 93 days but will not pay SLA costs until the 94th day. In certain areas, where availability allows, you may be able to apply for surplus SFA.
If you are the serving person moving to a PStatCat 2 with full custody of children, you are able to apply for another SFA in the area and will only pay for one SFA during the 93- day NTV period.
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.
It will make life easier as a separating/divorced military spouse if you have a local connection to the area you are looking to settle in.
However, guidance from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) states that ‘The Secretary of State strongly encourages local authorities to exempt from any local connection requirements divorced or separated spouses or civil partners of Service personnel who need to move out of accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence.’
If you experience issues due to a lack of local connection ensure that your local authority is aware of the new guidance – GOV.UK: Improving access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces
If you are married and 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.
If you are leaving an established long-term relationship and currently live in surplus SFA, you will not be entitled to removals. However, you will still receive the 93 days’ notice to vacate.
Once the PStat category has been changed, if the spouse is non-serving, they can remain in the SFA for 93 days. During this period, the serving person still remains the licensee and will pay the SFA charges for the duration of the 93 days.
Divorced Service personnel who do not have full or sole custody of their children are not currently entitled to SFA. However, where availability exists they are eligible to apply for SFA on a surplus licence.
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.
Under the recent FAM pilot scheme, Service personnel who had their children for more than 80 nights a year were entitled to SFA. We are still waiting to hear which elements of the FAM pilot will be taken forward into the New Accommodation Offer policy but we are hopeful that this will be included.
There are certain barriers to applying for the housing costs element of Universal Credit for the non-serving partner on separation. If you remain in SFA after the 93 days’ notice to vacate, the Department for Work & Pensions has confirmed that you can’t claim the housing costs element of Universal Credit.
This is because once the licence to occupy the property has finished (at the end of your 93 days), you will be charged ‘mesne’ profits if you stay in the SFA (whether or not this has been agreed with the Loss of Entitlement Team (LOET)).
Unfortunately, mesne profits are not considered eligible housing costs under Universal Credit (in the way they were eligible under housing benefit), so any charges that are required after a tenancy has been ended will not be considered for housing costs support within Universal Credit.
AFF has raised this issue with the MOD & Department for Work and Pensions. The MOD is working to resolve the issue. We continue to highlight the severe financial disadvantage in these areas – contact email@example.com if you have been affected as your evidence helps us build a picture of the issue. We will provide an update in due course.
The following benefits calculator will be able to give you an estimate of help you would be eligible for if you were in private rented or social housing.
What financial help you would be eligible for would depend on your current circumstances. The GOV.UK: Benefits calculators is a good starting point to give you an indication of what you can claim based on your circumstances and give more information on how to claim.
If you need help to pay bills or other costs while awaiting your claim for Universal Credit you may be able to get an advance of Universal Credit. For more information see gov.uk/guidance/universal-credit-advances
Service personnel will need to speak to their Unit HR Administrators to confirm their new eligibility to any military allowances.Back to top
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 the 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.
For non-serving partners, it is important to highlight that, due to the Armed Forces lifestyle, they can 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.
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, visit gov.uk – Pension sharing charges – see section on divorce.
Some of the more common ways to deal with the pension are:
For more information, see GOV.UK: Pension benefits on divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships (MMP 131)
There are different options available for arranging child maintenance. If you both agree you could make an agreement between yourselves. See gov.uk/making-child-maintenance-arrangement/arrange-child-maintenance-yourself for guidance on arranging a child maintenance agreement yourself and mediation if you cannot agree.
The child maintenance calculator at gov.uk can be used to give you a starting point in discussions or show you the amount the government would calculate for you.
If you are unable to come to an agreement yourself, you can contact the Child Maintenance Service. There is an application fee of £20 but this does not apply if you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, under 19 years old or in Northern Ireland.
If you have difficulty with child maintenance claims, please contact the Money & Allowances team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
If you decide to separate and the non-serving spouse has primary care responsibility for the child(ren), the Service person will no longer be eligible to claim CEA. Once the Service person has changed their PStat category, they will only be able to claim CEA for one further academic term following that in which the change of status takes place.
If the child(ren) have started the two academic years leading to public exams (e.g. GCSEs, A-Levels and equivalent), they will be entitled to receive CEA until the end of that stage of education.
If the Service person becomes the primary carer for the child(ren) (PStatCat 2), they will need to submit an application for a new eligibility certificate and evidence needs to be provided that they are the child’s primary carer to retain CEA They would need to also submit casework when changing the PStatCat from 1 to 2.
Service Pupil Premium (SPP) is money that is paid directly to schools in England to support all Service children they have recorded on roll.
Children who no longer live with the serving parent may still be eligible for receipt of SPP support if they were recorded as a Service child on a school census prior to the divorce/separation.
If a child was recorded as a Service child before the divorce/separation, children will remain eligible for SPP for up to six years or until they each Year 11, whichever comes first.
If a child was not recorded as a Service child prior to the divorce/separation, they will not be eligible for SPP support. If the child/ren were to remain living with the serving parent their school would be able to claim SPP throughout their education until age 16.
Eligibility for claiming WAC may change after a separation/divorce. If the child/ren no longer live with the serving parent, then they would cease to be eligible for WAC as the child has to live with the Service person for the majority of the time.
If the child remains living with the Service person, then they will still be able to claim WAC as long as payments continue to be made through a Tax-Free Childcare account and all other criteria are met.
When considering the cost of childcare parents should access the government’s Childcare Choices website to explore see what financial support may be available to help them. Childcare Choices allows parents to enter their income and location in the UK to discover what they might be able to claim. It is important to check this periodically as options available may change as the child grows or circumstances change.
When the serving person changes their PStat category, this may impact their entitlement to certain allowances. In the first instance we would suggest speaking to the Unit HR Admin team but if you need more support, please contact email@example.com
Is there anything I need to consider when discussing custody of my children as an Army family?
If you choose to separate whilst living in one nation (e.g. overseas location or devolved administration) and then on moving to another nation (e.g. to England), you are strongly encouraged to seek independent advice on jurisdiction issues such as custody of children before you make such a decision, as you may find that you become subject to local host nation regulations.Back to top
If the family is returning to the UK from overseas following a PStat category change/estrangement, you will need to arrange accommodation in the UK.
If the partner is non-serving, the Service person will need to apply for a SFA in the UK for their spouse. Pinnacle Home Services should then notify the Loss of Entitlement Team (LOET) of the move-in date once arranged.
The LOET will wait for the move-in to be confirmed and will then issue a Notice To Vacate (NTV) to both parties for a 93 day notice period. Please be aware that the LOET carry out a Proportionality Exercise review to ascertain the future plans of the spouse. The spouse will become liable to pay Damage For Trespass rates from the expiry of the NTV if they haven’t vacated the SFA and DIO may then commence the legal process to gain possession of the SFA – which usually takes around eleven weeks from requesting to eviction.
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.
The current rules state that divorced Service personnel are not entitled to funded School Children’s Visits for their children to visit them overseas.
If you have children from a previous relationship that you wish to take overseas, it is best to seek professional legal advice as you will need permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or a court order before taking a child abroad.
Further info can be found at Get permission to take a child abroad
Some overseas border controls and airlines have strict regulations and will not allow passengers to board aircrafts without the correct paperwork. You are strongly advised to investigate individual country requirements and routinely carry child(ren’s) birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate, written consent from both parties or court order, and adoption certificate if adopted. See the Children/Education section on our General Overseas Postings page for information about UNMINs travelling on SCVs.
For more information for non-UK families separating or divorcing, please see our F&C Divorce/Separation webpage.
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