Military life comes with its own set of challenges, and getting married in the military adds another layer to the adventure. From deployment to moving to basic training and beyond, getting married is just one more hurdle to overcome and settle into your new life as a military couple. In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of how one can obtain a military marriage, the benefits, and much more. Let’s dive in!
Military Marriage Process
We break down, step-by-step, the process of getting married while active in the military.
Step 1: Notification to Commanding Officer
One crucial step in the military marriage process is notifying the commanding officer. This is not only a matter of military protocol but also ensures that the chain of command is aware of the personal circumstances of its members.
Step 2: Confirm Marriage Logistics
There may be certain logistical considerations to think about before tying the knot while on active duty. For example, there may be a logistical issue with a military marriage if deployment or basic training in impending.
Step 3: Get a Prenup
This isn’t legally required, of course, but it may be a good idea to consider getting a prenup. According to Military.com, the sad truth is that people in the military industry have the highest rates of divorce. Prenups can help ensure both parties are protected by keeping assets separate, deciding on alimony, including life insurance clauses, and much more.
Step 4: Obtaining a Marriage License
Just like civilian marriages, military marriages require obtaining a marriage license. However, military members may have the added responsibility of coordinating this process with their military duties, which can be difficult depending on schedules. You can find out your county’s marriage license process and fees by going to your local county clerk’s website.
Step 5: Ceremony Planning
Military weddings often involve thoughtful consideration of traditions and protocol. From military uniforms to saber arches, military couples have the opportunity to infuse their ceremony with unique elements that reflect their service and commitment. Plus, if you and your future spouse are in a rush due to military restrictions, you may be able to qualify for priority wedding services.
Step 6: Get Married!
Now for the fun part: say, “I do!” After you have completed Steps one through five, all that’s left is to tie the knot at your beautiful military wedding. Cheers to a lifetime of happiness!
Planning a Military Wedding
There’s so much to do and so little time. Planning a military wedding has additional layers that are both fun and stressful at times.
From the cutting of the cake with a saber to the presentation of the flag, there are a few different military customs you may add to your wedding to give a distinctive touch to the celebration. For example, the sword arch ceremony is when six to eight servicemembers stand outside the chapel and create an arch for the newlyweds to walk through. It symbolizes protection walking into your new life.
Military-themed wedding fun
Couples have the opportunity to incorporate military elements into various aspects of their ceremony, from themed decorations to rank insignia on the wedding cake. These personal touches make the wedding a reflection of the couple’s unique journey.
Planning around deployment/basic training
Then there’s the stressful topic of deployments and basic training. Planning a wedding around big events such as basic training or deployment can be an extremely stressful aspect of planning a military wedding. Making sure that the wedding lines up before or after this big event can take an emotional toll knowing that the couple will be apart for so long either immediately following the wedding or immediately before.
Benefits of Military Marriage
Once you’re married… what are the benefits? We discuss the top three military benefits you may qualify for once you are married.
Benefit #1: Financial Incentives
Military couples typically enjoy various financial incentives, including compensation, discounts, bonuses, and tax benefits. As you can see here, the IRS lists out all the military marriage tax benefits available. These incentives are designed to support the family unit and were created to assist with the unique challenges faced by military couples.
Benefit #2: Healthcare Benefits
Access to healthcare is an important aspect of military life, and marriage ensures that spouses and children may receive comprehensive medical coverage. This benefit provides a sense of security for many military families. For instance, getting access to Tricare is one of the most common ways military spouses can benefit from marriage.
Benefit #3: Housing Allowances
Military couples may be eligible for housing allowances, such as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) which can alleviate financial burdens associated with finding housing. These allowances vary based on factors such as rank, location, and dependents, providing tailored support for each family.
Tips for a Successful Military Marriage
Given the high divorce rates for military couples, it’s so important to put in the work to make a military marriage successful. Beyond having love for one another it’s also important to practice effective communication, lean on support systems, and embrace flexibility into your life.
Communication is the cornerstone of any successful marriage, and in the military, it becomes even more crucial. Open and honest communication helps couples navigate the challenges and uncertainties of military life. For instance, setting financial expectations with one another both before and during the marriage is one way to practice effective communication. A prenup is a great way to facilitate this financial expectation setting.
Building a strong support system, both within the military community and beyond, provides couples with the resources and encouragement needed to thrive. Connecting with other military families can create a sense of camaraderie and shared experience. You can see a directory of many different military family support systems at Operation We Are Here.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Military life is inherently unpredictable, requiring couples to be flexible and adaptable. Embracing change and approaching challenges with a positive mindset contribute to the resilience of the relationship. In fact, there are even some studies to back up the claim that being more psychologically flexible equates to higher relationship satisfaction.
Why You Should Know About the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA)
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) is a federal law enacted in 1982 that addresses the division of military pensions and other benefits in the context of divorce. The USFSPA provides a framework for the division of military retired pay between divorcing spouses. Under the USFSPA, state courts have the authority to treat certain military pay as marital property and include it in the overall division of assets during divorce proceedings.
The USFSPA also establishes specific criteria for the application and calculation of the former spouse’s share, ensuring a fair and just distribution. For example, you must have been married for at least 10 years, and the military spouse served for 10 years. In addition, the USFSPA does not automatically entitle a former spouse to a portion of the military pension but allows state courts to make such determinations based on individual circumstances.
This legal framework offers protection and guidance to military spouses, promoting fairness and consistency in addressing financial matters during divorce within the military community.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, getting married in the military is a unique and rewarding experience filled with challenges and triumphs. The process to get married is fairly simple, but may require a few extra steps that don’t exist in the non-military world. And once you finally tie the knot, there are tons of marriage benefits waiting for you on the other side! And don’t forget to prioritize your marriage to ensure you live happily ever after… forever! Cheers and congrats on saying “I do!”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to Get Married in the Military
Let’s break down some commonly asked questions regarding how to get married in the military.
Q: Is there a specific age requirement for getting married in the military?
A: Yes, but it’s just the regular legal age for marriage that applies (this is 18 years old in most states).
Q: What is different about getting married in the military versus a non-military marriage?
A: There’s not too heavy of a difference except for the logistics of planning a wedding around significant military events, such as deployment, notifying your commanding officer of the wedding, and planning a military wedding.
Q: Why should military couples get a prenup?
A: Military couples should consider getting a prenup because prenups can help facilitate communication between couples and set expectations for both during the marriage and in the event of a split. Plus, people in the military industry have the highest rates of divorce out of any industry.
Q: What financial incentives do military couples receive?
A: Military couples may enjoy allowances, bonuses, and tax benefits to support their family unit.
Q: Are there legal protections for military spouses in case of divorce?
A: Yes, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act provides guidelines for the division of military retired pay.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]