Each year, hundreds of military spouses find themselves in one of the most difficult situations imaginable: their deployed spouse is asking for a divorce. It can happen for any number of reasons – perhaps the marriage was beginning to falter before the spouse deployed or maybe the experience in a combat zone has left the deployed person feeling bereft – but if you are in this position, there are certain steps that you must take to protect yourself. The Law Office of Steven C Benke proposes that you follow these six steps:

1. Find an attorney and schedule an initial consultation.

Many spouses of deployed service people are reluctant to contact an attorney. However, it is important that you find an attorney early on in the process so that you can protect yourself and your interests.

2. Look for a counselor who can help you process your feelings.

It is hard enough to be stateside while your spouse is deployed, but if they have asked for a divorce, you will have even more feelings to contend with. Meet with a counselor or therapist who can help you deal with your feelings.

3. Begin collecting the necessary documentation.

Your attorney will be able to help you figure out which documents you need. Take this time to start hunting down all the paperwork you will need for your divorce. If you can find it all without consulting your deployed spouse, even better.

4. Think about money.

The fact of the matter is that, after your divorce is final, you are going to have to pay more expenses on less income. This is a good time to contemplate a budget for how to do that. Furthermore, this may be a good time for you to start saving money for yourself.

5. Start the separation.

As many states require a set separation period before the divorce is finalized, you should pursue steps to get the separation clock started while they are still deployed. Then, when your deployed spouse returns, you will be able to finalize the divorce.

6. Determine what you are going to do with your time and your life.

Most people who are going through a divorce do not have the luxury of doing so while their soon-to-be ex spouse is thousands of miles away. This is a good time for you to think about what you would like to do with yourself, outside of the context of ‘spouse’ where you have probably been living for some years.