Insights & advice

What are the differences between military and civilian divorces?

How to get a divorce in the military

The legal procedure for both types of divorce are the same, but there are a number of ways in which military divorces do differ from that of a civilian. This is in respect of the various military pension schemes, boarding school allowances and service family accommodation.

One of the biggest concerns in filing for a divorce in the military is in relation to their pension. The military pension now falls under the 1975, 2005 and 2015 schemes. The ways in which these schemes are now administered can make them far more complicated than a private pension. It is very important that you speak to someone who understands the way in which these work.

It is common for the Armed Forces Pension to be the largest asset of the marriage and for that to form part of, if not all, of the assets. You need to make the right decisions in respect of your divorce or dissolution.

Since 2000, a spouse now has an interest in the military pension of their husband, wife or civil partner.

The court has the power to make a number of orders in respect of a pension:

Pension Sharing – this is when a percentage share of the pension is transferred to a former spouse which then makes that person a member of the Armed Forces Pension. An interest in the Armed Forces Pension cannot be transferred out to a different scheme or “cashed in”. This is permanent and will never be re-credited to the pension member in the event of death of the ex-spouse. A pension sharing order against a serving member will also impact on the level of lump sum payable upon retirement.

Pension Attachment (England and Wales) – this is when one party receives either a monthly payment from the pension once it is in payment or a share of the lump sum upon retirement. A pension attachment order is a secured form of spousal maintenance and would end upon death of either party or the ex-spouse’s remarriage.

Offsetting – this is when the spouses interest in the pension is offset against another asset i.e. capital or property.

No order – this is whereby each party retains their own pensions, for example in the event of a short marriage or equal pension values.

There are now a number of different military pension schemes and a different percentage order can be made against each part.


As you can see from the above, there are now a large number of pensions involved within military divorces, which is why you should speak to a lawyer. They will ensure that you get sound and expert advice.

We’re here to support you if you need it – please call our experienced military divorce solicitors in Hampshire and Wiltshire. We are pleased to offer a 10% military discount to serving personnel.

Our military divorce experts will be able to advise you on how to file for a divorce and your military divorce entitlements.


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Just a short note to once again express my sincere thanks to you, Sue and the M&U team, for all your help, cooperation and first class professional support. I am most grateful to you all.

Chris Stephenson, Warminster

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