There are many relationship support options available for you to try as an RAF couple that may help you address any relationship issues. Some are free of charge and others offer an allowance of a set amount of sessions before you pay. You will just need your serving person’s Service Number to hand when you make initial contact, but this is simply to confirm eligibility.
The RAF Benevolent Fund in particular can offer the following:
- Online relationship support – Building Stronger Families
- Mediation support (to settle disputes over living arrangements, child maintenance, property and money)
- Up to six counselling sessions with your local Relate branch (telephone counselling and advice via web-based live chat now available too)
All are confidential services to you with independent contact details. No-one in the RAF will be told that you have accessed these services unless there are safeguarding issues which may need acting on.
Family Mediation Council
If you have already decided to separate, divorce or dissolve a partnership and would prefer to go through a general route for advice and guidance on sorting out the formal arrangements, the Family Mediation Council allows you to enter your postcode online and find registered family mediators near you.
Living in SFA during a marriage breakdown
When a relationship in the Services breaks down there may be other issues to be addressed. A marriage breakdown in the Service, especially when occupying a quarter, is viewed differently than when in civvy street.
If the Serving person leaves the quarter and goes into single service accommodation (for example), there is a ‘cooling off’ period. Once this period has ended, the Service will push for a decision from the Serving person to either return to the quarter or change their Personal Status Category (PStat Cat) from ‘married’ to ‘separated’.
Once the Personal Status Category is changed, and this could be done by the Service person at any time, then it is the trigger for the ‘notice to vacate’ to be issued on the person remaining in the quarter, (Service or non-Service) and the marriage or civil partnership is viewed by the Service to be over, with all the other implications this has.
General welfare support
Working alongside the RAF, but outside the Chain of Command, SSAFA staff are there to help with general welfare concerns for you and your family, whether you are a regular or reserve.
If you need support, you can reach the central team by phone: 03000 111 723 and email: psswsRAF@ssafa.org.uk.
One in four people will experience a common mental health illness at some stage in their lives and when stress starts to become overwhelming and interfere with your daily life there are places you can go. In particular the new 24/7 Military Mental Health Helpline is available on 0800 323 4444 and is aimed at serving personnel and families (operated by Combat Stress). The RAF Benevolent Fund also can also support you through different support channels.
Pensions on divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships
Veterans UK can also be a good source of information regarding military pensions and how they are delivered. GOV.UK also provides pension sharing rules through guidance documents of the Armed Forces Pension Schemes (AFPS) and Reserve Forces Pension Schemes (RFPS).