August 26, 55 BCE was a clear day along the English Channel when Julius Caesar first invaded Britain. He had no easy time of it. He was a military leader far away from the comforts of home, just four years into his (third) marriage, to Calpurnia. He had with him his tough Roman legionaries, also far from home. Perhaps it was the far-flung shores. Perhaps he missed his wife; at any rate, Julius Caesar, mighty Caesar, fought and fled. What can you do, more than 2,000 years later, if you have a military duty far from home, and your wife does not want to join you?
You are happy serving in the military. You love the chow (!) and the hours are great (!!). You and your wife are happy in your sumptuous base housing (!!!) but the thing you love the most, of course, is the calm that comes from knowing you’ll never have to move (!!!!).
Okay, most of that may be … slightly exaggerated, but most military service members expect to receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders at some point in their military careers.
PCS combine all the thrills of having to move with the stress of doing it under a government schedule. Few, if any, military families embrace military relocation as a grand adventure, so your wife’s initial hesitation is completely understandable.
The issue is, did the PCS orders arrive at a time when your marriage was already tender, vulnerable, or fragile? Could the stress and shock of uprooting your family be enough to break the bonds?
Denial, Anger, Bargaining …
Common among military families are the same five stages of grief for moving that most folks feel for the loss of a loved one:
- Denial — We are not having to move, no way!
- Anger — After all I’ve done for this country, to be shipped off to Bayonne, New Jersey!
- Bargaining — Maybe the CO will cancel the orders, and we won’t have to move! I would volunteer for KP for a month if that happened.
- Depression — I made friends. I learned the faster back way to the Piggly Wiggly.
- Acceptance — Well, at least Bayonne is not as bad as Twentynine Palms was, so there’s that. Sure, I miss Fort Eustis, but we’ll adjust.
What is Your Marital Background?
Military marriages are tests of personal strength even in the best of times. If you and your wife are already contemplating a separation, one way to consider military relocation is as a possible answer.
A separation in which your wife remains behind in Virginia and you follow your orders, can start the clock on a divorce. You already have an official date — the report date on your PCS orders. Six months or a year to the day from that time, she could file for divorce from you in Virginia.
That may not be the answer you want. You may want to try to work out the problems, and the long distance will make that even harder. One reason for her to remain behind could be your children. You want them to stay in their local school to finish the year, to hold tight to their friends.
Your wife’s work could be another reason your wife may want to remain behind. To uproot her, especially if her work income is needed to help your family, could be a big blow financially.
Will You Be Able to Work it Out?
If your relocation is not unreasonably far from your Virginia marital residence, you could work out visits or trips halfway to meet, see your kids, and discuss possible solutions. You may even consider finding a marital counselor roughly halfway between your new base assignment and your wife’s Virginia home. Having a third, unbiased party to discuss the problem with can help both of you.
Moving … On
If the PCS seems like a godsend to you, you may want to look deeper at your marriage. Perhaps you already sense your marriage is in dire straits; the relocation could be the spur you both need to bring finality to the relationship.
If that is your situation, you can contact a Virginia law firm before you are relocated and proceed with the military divorce using your marital home address (generally, only one of you must reside in the state for the case to be heard before a Virginia judge).
Military Relocation Overseas
A whole new level of complexity arises when your military relocation takes you overseas. International relocation is far more stressful than a stateside posting, and you need to acknowledge that to your wife. Work with your wife to try to hear her concerns. Address them with patience and practicality, knowing you, at least, have no choice, but she does. If you truly want her to be by your side, you have to consider her needs and wants.
If, despite your best efforts, you sense the PCS orders may be a forced end to your marriage, The Firm For Men may be able to help. Contact us online or at 757-383-9184 to speak with an experienced Virginia family law attorney today.