Specific Family Law Issues for Military personnel when facing a relationship breakdown

At Delaney Roberts Family Lawyers, we take particular pride in assisting our Defence Force community. Our office is located 500 metres from Bullecourt Barracks at Adamstown so over the past 12 years of operations we have helped numerous Defence Force personnel and their families. 

The unique nature of employment in the military sometimes means that separation ro divorce in military families is more complicated. The repeated deployment, complex superannuation and the possible mental health impacts which arise from serving your country are all common issues faced by those in, or previously married to, someone in the military. 

Repeated Relocation

Deployments and posting can often wreak havoc on parenting arrangements, and the fact that they can occur every two to four years can mean that parties often end up in court. 

Under the Family Law Act, the primary concern is always the best interests of the child. This is not, however, the only consideration. When considering a relocation case, the Court will seek to ensure that parents have as much freedom as possible and seek to make the Order which is least likely to lead to further Court proceedings. 

One example of the Court balancing these considerations is a Case where the Court permitted a parent to relocate anywhere within Australia (with the child) for her work within the Defence Force. 

At Delaney Roberts Family Lawyers we regularly assist Defence Force Peresonnel to finalise their parenting matter, with true finality, even if one party is required to relocate in the future. 

DFRB Superannuation & Pensions

In recognition of their service to our country, members of the ADF often have lucrative superannuation benefits, which can be paid as a pension upon their discharge, usually in addition to a lump sum. 

When it comes to a property division after separation, these superannuation interests can complicate things. It is important to get advice as early on from a Family Lawyer who has dealt with these complex superannuation interests previously. 

Some of the matters to be considered in relation to the superannuation for a property settlement include:

  • Whether the interest is commutable, and whether  it was when the relationship began;
  • Whether it is in the pension phase, and if so when this began; 
  • Whether the years of service which resulted in the accrual of the interest were during the relationship;
  • The relative ages of the parties; and
  • The decisions made by the parties during the relationship and how this has impacted the financial positions of each of the parties. 

It is very important to get good legal advice in relation to superannuation, before reaching a property division agreement. 

PTSD and Family Law

Unfortunately, it is well established that members of our Defence Force are more likely to suffer PTSD or mental health issues as a result of their service to their country. 

Mental Health issues, particularly when they stop you from obtaining gainful employment, are relevant to how property is divided between a couple after separation. Often these conditions can also cause real issues in parenting matters. Whilst the Court must ensure that children are safe, it must also ensure that children are generally best served by having a strong relationship with both aprents to the maximum extent possible. 

If you have a condition because of your, or your partner’s service, it is important to seek legal advice from a Family Lawyer soon after separation. 

How Can We Help?

If you need assistance during separation and are currently or have previously served in the military, please contact us today on 4952 3901 or email hello@delaneyroberts.com.au to schedule one of our ‘Smart Start’ fixed fee appointments.

By Jade Coshaw

Associate Solicitor