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Ask Cindy: Legal Help for Military Spouses

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Happy Friday Military Family Friends! This week, we’re excited to introduce a new feature called “Ask Cindy”. Cindy Harkrider has over 23 years of service in the Army Reserves and National Guard, and currently serves as the Operations Officer at 83rd Troop Command in Florida. In addition to being a navy brat in her teens, Cindy has been a navy spouse twice before, being widowed from her first marriage and divorced from the second, and knows firsthand about moving, deployments, separations, grief and most recently, dating as a 40-something. Cindy has a wealth of knowledge to share about all of your Military Family questions- so go ahead and Ask Cindy your question now!

My daughter has been married for 13 years. Her husband was in the military and receives disability. They are going through bankruptcy and then getting a divorce. They are separated at this time and share care for their 3 children. They are planning on an uncontested divorce and not using an attorney. They are planning shared custody but I am concerned, without legal help she may end up with the kids most of the time without any financial help from him. Are there any legal aid groups for military spouses? We live in New Mexico. I appreciate your help with this issue.


Ask Cindy!

Dear Annie,
I’m sorry that your daughter is going through all this – I know it isn’t easy.  I do not have a legal background, but I think I can point you in the right direction.  I assumed when you said that your son-in-law “was in the military”, that he is out now and is a civilian, which means your daughter would not be considered a military spouse.  However, a “military divorce” (where one party is in the service) goes through the same processes as a civilian divorce, but there are federal laws that govern how pay and benefits are divided such as the Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act.

There is some good information on that at www.divorcesource.com, and I think it is important that your daughter seek counsel that has experience with military divorces in her state if that is the case.  I am not aware of any legal aid services specifically for military spouses, but there are websites to help you find relevant legal services by state such as: www.statesidelegal.org.  She could also consider a consultation with a lawyer to review what they agree on before it is submitted to the court, and pay for an hour instead of paying a retainer.
I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best.


  1. beverly thompson

    February 20, 2013

    my daughter has been active duty for ten years. she’s station 3 1/2 hours from me. i am her only source of help and child care. are there any resources that wil help us keep my grandchildren from missing school at her duty station. while she is away for training and they are with me.