Maintaining a healthy relationship whilst working for the RAF can sometimes be difficult due to the demands placed on our Service personnel which may impact on their family members.

If you are struggling with your relationship, we hope the information in these pages will help you understand the support available to you as a Serving person or their partner, whether you are looking for ways to try and continue with your relationship or how best to manage your separation.

Getting help to resolve relationship issues

If you and your partner are finding it tough, there are many relationship support options available to help you. Some are free of charge and others offer an allowance of a set amount of sessions before you pay.

Speak to your welfare team on your Unit for further information, including SSAFA, the Padre and Hive Information Officer. To access the support, you will need your serving person’s Service Number to hand when you make initial contact, (just to confirm eligibility).

The RAF Benevolent Fund can offer the following support options:

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.

Should your relationship issues begin to affect your mental health visit our mental health page to be directed to available support services.

Help when your relationship has ended

If you have already decided to separate, divorce or dissolve a partnership you will find comprehensive guidance on the Separation and divorce guide for military personnel, spouses and partners (gov.uk).

The Citizens Advice also offer guidance on separation, including how to separate, arrange your finances and make agreements about your children. However, if you are unable to agree the Family Mediation Council offer access to a local mediator who can help you to sort out formal arrangements with finances and child access without going to court. You can enter your postcode online and find a registered family mediator near you.

Living in SFA during a marriage breakdown

When a relationship in the Services breaks down there may be additional issues to be addressed that civilian couples don’t have to face, such as eligibility to allowances and entitlement to Service Families Accommodation. Here we explain what you need to know about living in SFA during a marriage breakdown.

If the Serving person leaves the family home and goes into single service accommodation (for example), there is a ‘cooling off’ period of 93 days, where the couple try and work out their issues. Once this period has ended, the Service person must decide either to return to the family home or change their Personal Status Category (PStat Cat) from ‘married’ to ‘separated’.

Once the Personal Status Category is changed (this could be done by the Service person at any time if it is obvious that the relationship is over) if the family are in Service Families Accommodation, the Service person must advise the DIO Loss of Entitlements Team. The service person will be responsible for paying for that SFA for a further 93 days to allow the remaining family members to make alternative living arrangements.

More detail available in the Separation and divorce guide for military personnel, spouses and partners (gov.uk) >

Pensions on divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships

Pensions should form part of your financial settlement upon divorce. Veterans UK is a good source of information regarding military pensions and how they are delivered. It is important to understand how much the Armed Forces Pension is worth in order to split the pension fairly. GOV.UK provides further detail on this.

The Forces Pension Society can offer further advice in this area – they have specialist knowledge and it is advisable to make sure all decisions made during this stressful time are fully considered.

MoD Information sheets and notes for Courts and Families

The Ministry of Defence has produced information for Family Court workers to help demonstrate that Service and family life is compatible.

The information sheets aim to increase understanding about the working and living arrangements of Service personnel, and how their families are impacted. The documents also shows the support available for Armed Forces families to build and maintain a stable life at home.

Two versions have been created – one for England and Wales, and one for Scotland.

Information Sheet for Family Courts (Eng/Wales)

Information Sheet for Family Courts (Scotland)

The MoD has also produced separate information notes containing advice about children, families and separation proceedings. The information note provides essential information about proceedings, such as how it works and who is involved, as well as useful resources.

Two versions have been created – one for England and Wales, and one for Scotland.

Information Note on Separation Proceedings (Eng/Wales)

Information Note on Separation Proceedings (Scotland)

The impact of relationship breakdown on children

When a family unit breaks down it can have a negative effect on the children, whatever their age. It is important for the parents to try and minimise any outward hostility. The Royal College of Psychiatry offer some useful information on this.

If the Service person has moved into Single Living Accommodation they can’t host their children there overnight. There are alternative options which can be explored:

  • The RAF Association offer financial help up to four times a year to finance hotels to see children
  • The RAF Benevolent Fund offer financial assistance for setting up a home due to these circumstances
  • SSAFA can help prepare the application and also assist with applying for joint custody to allow the Service person to apply for SFA
  • Some units have contact houses which can be used for this purpose, , access to these are on a priority basis and can be booked through unit admin

Child maintenance

If you have children, it is important to ensure long term financial support is agreed between the parents. It is best (and cheaper) for the parents to decide between them what level of maintenance should be paid and this is no different whether you are in the Armed Forces or not. See Child Maintenance Service (gov.uk) for more.

You may be required to financially support your children, there is a child maintenance calculator available to help calculate this, it takes in to account the income and assets of you and your partner.

More information on supporting Service children can be found on gov.uk >

Look after your wellbeing

Ending a marriage or long term relationship is stressful and emotional and you may find you need additional support for your wellbeing. There is a lot of support available to you as the Serving person or the partner – please take a look at our health and wellbeing pages but also talk to your unit welfare team for support.

If you are in an abusive relationship, our online Health and wellbeing section provides lots of help, advice and places to go for support as a military family member.

More guidance on health and wellbeing can be found in the government guide on separation and divorce.

How We Can Help

If you are experiencing relationship issues and you need guidance on where to go for your family’s circumstances, get in touch. We can direct you to the appropriate support services.