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Same-sex divorce in military families

It takes bravery to admit that a marriage is over, especially if it was a hard fight to win the right to become married in Texas in the first place. The fact is that getting a divorce does not nullify any previous effort. It is simply the beginning of a new phase. Divorce, while it is largely seen for its function to terminate a marriage, also often builds many new, formal relationships between the previously married individuals.

Apart from the concerns common to civilian divorces, such as alimony, child support and property division, there are certain things that military couples often must consider. Specifically, federal laws and individual institutional guidances now treat same-sex and mixed-sex unions equally when considering how to handle various military-specific items, such as benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

Stories of how military couples overcome the odds to get married are common. Military.com, for example, recently reported on a dual-military same-sex couple that endured foreign deployments, the DADT era and several attempts at marriage before finally becoming officially married. This type of massive investment of emotional energy and time could make it difficult to walk away. 

Another complication comes when handling military benefits. The VA website states that, pursuant to a 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex couples are now eligible for the same benefits as mixed-sex couples. However, ex-spouses who are not members of one of the armed services might not be eligible to receive any part of certain services — base housing, for example. A Texas court could regard other assets, such as disposable retirement income, as divisible property. 

The VA website also mentions that one would have to designate his or her spouse as a beneficiary to share the various benefits. This resource also provides a list of programs and benefits for reference. 

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