If your relationship ends, you’ll need to consider how to divide your money and assets, and find out what financial help you may be eligible for during this difficult time. AFF Money & Allowances Specialist, Claire Hallam, looks into your options…
Your first question may be ‘what financial support will I be eligible for?’ It’s wise to check what benefits you can claim first, you can use the government calculators.
Input all your details to find out what you may be eligible for depending on your circumstances. An advance of Universal Credit (UC) may be available if you need financial support until your first payment.
IT’S NOT STRAIGHTFORWARD
There are some barriers for non-serving partners, however. If you remain in a quarter after the 93 days’ notice to vacate, you would not be able to claim the housing costs element of UC.
Whilst UC can be claimed when you’re posted overseas, it’s only as a joint claim with a serving person. Therefore, non-serving spouses whose relationship breaks down can’t start a claim separately whilst waiting to return to the UK, which can have a significant impact.
We’ve raised both of these issues with the MOD and Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). The MOD is working to resolve the issue of UC housing costs, and we’re waiting for a response from DWP on separation overseas. We continue to highlight the severe financial disadvantage in these areas. Your evidence helps us, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve been affected.
If you’re living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) as the non-serving spouse, removals are generally paid from the duty station to where you’ll live after separation, but not for those of you separating from a long-term relationship. If you’re serving, and continue to be entitled to SFA when you change your PStat Cat but are still required to move, you may also be eligible for removals.
Parents need to work out costs for children – the child maintenance calculator is a useful tool which shows the amount the government would calculate for you. You can come to a private agreement or use the child maintenance service (CMS) – more at gov.uk – for which there may be fees.
Separating your finances on divorce will be individual to each couple. It will include looking at all of your assets like property, savings and pensions, and agreeing how to separate them and make a legal arrangement.
If you can’t agree how to separate your finances, then mediation may be an option to help you come to a compromise. If you’re not able to come to an agreement, then you can ask a court to make a decision for you. For an armed forces pension, getting a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) from Veterans UK is the first step to find out what it’s worth. Veterans UK is part of the MOD and administers the Armed Forces Pension Scheme – you can find useful information at its divorce section by searching ‘armed forces pensions’ at gov.uk.
Once you have the CETV it may be best to seek professional legal or financial advice from someone with knowledge of armed forces pension schemes to understand your rights and entitlements and the best way to share the pension, based on your circumstances.
The ‘pro search’ function at The Law Society will filter your location for solicitors that specialise in armed forces pensions. If you’re a member of the Forces Pension Society, they may be able to help. Whether you can get legal aid to support with your costs may depend on where you live, as the rules are different across the UK. It may also depend on how much you earn, whether you’re on benefits or if you have been a victim of domestic abuse. To find out more, search ‘How to pay legal fees on divorce’ at moneyhelper.org.uk
Advice Now – Online guides on pensions, finances, and mediation
Money Advice Plus – If you need support for domestic financial abuse Tel: 08081 968845