What to Look For |
What to Do |
What to Avoid
What to Expect |
Research indicates that facing a marital separation or divorce is as stressful as suffering the death of a loved one. Individuals facing such situations should be immediately referred to the appropriate legal and medical facilities for individual counseling. The nearest Marine Corps legal assistance office is the best source of initial help for Marines facing such a crisis. Marines facing such family law issues will frequently face a substantial change in their personal finances. For example, in cases involving the support of a child or spouse, the Marine could be required to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars per month to the separated family member. These types of cases require the Marine to make thoughtful and informed decisions regarding the case, which can be difficult given the stress and emotional state of the Marine. Note also that timely communication with opposing attorneys and courts are often critical in family law case management. Marines should therefore be very careful to talk to legal assistance attorneys about correspondence regarding the case, as soon as possible. Marines should also be careful not to sign any document regarding the case before consulting with a legal assistance attorney. Irreparable harm can be caused by signed agreements and consent orders without a full evaluation provided by competent counsel. A substantial number of family law matters are resolved by agreement between the parties without litigation or the courts.
- Regular visits by the Marine to the legal assistance office.
- Contact from the family member requesting assistance with financial support issues.
- In cases where a command must issue an order of support under Chapter 15 of the LEGADMIN MCO P5800.16, commanders should occasionally check with the Marine to ensure that support payments are being made. In addition, the Marine should be made aware of his right to request that the command reduce or waive the support standards in certain instances, such as in cases involving spousal desertion, physical abuse, or infidelity. However, a member's duty to support minor children is not affected by spousal misconduct.
- Family law issues can take many months to resolve, even under the best of circumstances. To facilitate a resolution of this type of problem, a commander must ensure that the Marine is afforded the opportunity to make repeat visits to counsel over a prolonged period of time.