My wife and I got married a year ago, and we have a beautiful daughter who is not even a year old. I’m 25, and my wife is now 23, but I’m currently stationed overseas, and they are in California. I’m a soldier in the army, and my absence has been taxing on my wife, and on my baby daughter. We are filing for divorce, which is not only upsetting, but also means dealing with divorce proceedings while I am overseas.
My wife and I were only just starting our financial life, and now it is ending. We bought a new car this year, and we still owe $23k on it, and we have an additional $3k in credit card debt. Because I’m stationed overseas, and we’ve been married for only a year, this is the only debt we have together. My wife pays the bills from our joint checking account, which I appreciate because I am always in the field and very rarely get much time to help manage our finances. Everything we have is shared: our bank accounts, credit cards, and debt. Now we’re incredibly stressed because, after one year of marriage, we need to decide who gets to keep what. We also have to decide who is going to be responsible for our debts, or how we will split the costs.
As for savings, we honestly have none. My wife spent most of our savings account on furniture, and other things, which I’m not too clear on because I haven’t been able to diligently track our spending. (I spent a small amount of our savings on gear for work as well.) I‘m not overly frustrated that she spent our savings, I’m mostly just frustrated that she did so without talking to me about it. I agreed that she should buy some furniture, of course, but the price was never discussed between the two of us. I can’t do anything about that now, though I do think it’s frustrating that after our divorce proceedings, we will likely split the debt we’ve incurred even though I am going to give her all the furniture, and she is going to keep the engagement ring I bought her.
Having a child, of course, makes our divorce much more complicated, and makes things more challenging emotionally. My daughter is less than a year old and doesn’t know what’s going on, which is, in some ways, better because she won’t have to remember going through this ordeal. But, in terms of my relationship with my daughter, being in the Army and overseas does not help my case. Because of my work, and the fact that I’m not around, the judge will more than likely give my wife full custody of our daughter. In general, being away from my child is so hard. I don’t get to see any of my daughter’s firsts. I miss out on all the little things. I can’t tuck her in, and I can’t pick her up when she falls. She knows “dada” as a face on a screen, and what my voice sounds like through Skype, but I’m not there in person.
My wife and I both agree that we want to be as civilized as possible, and not make things worse than they already are. We bring in roughly $3400/month, and she uses our basic housing allowance from the Army to help pay for housing. The fact that I am serving overseas in a very limited station brings a lot of problems to the table. My station is still very new, and nothing is simple and easy. We don’t have anything close by, other than a post office. To go to the hospital, or get groceries, or supplies, I’d need to take a bus, which runs very infrequently. Everything from getting groceries to making a doctor’s appointment is an ordeal. There is even less time for me to communicate with my family, and figure out expenses between my wife and me.
My ideal scenario, of course, is making this divorce as painless as possible for everyone. If we could have a no-fault divorce with everything settled out of court, and the debt divided evenly between us, that would be best. As of now, we are planning to have the debt divided evenly between the two of us. However, if we do have to go to court, the judge might decide otherwise, and our situation could get progressively messier. I am not nervous about the divorce, but I’m disappointed because my family had just started, and now it’s quickly ending. Unfortunately, that’s not abnormal in my line of work. Being in the Military comes with a lot of baggage, and is challenging for both the soldier and the family. I know that my wife and I will both be fine in the long run. And I know I just have to do whatever I can to ensure the best life for my daughter.
*Luke Thompson is not his real name.
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