If you are planning on joining the military and planning on getting married, there are certain advantages (as well as some disadvantages) to tying that knot before you leave for basic training.
However, I emphasize that one should not make their marriage decision based primarily on these factors. The divorce rate in the United States is about 50 percent, and that statistic follows over to the military. In fact, the military divorce rate may be even a little higher, because of the difficulty of a military life (frequent moves, unaccompanied assignments, long working hours, combat deployments, etc.).
But, if you've already made your decision to get married and are now just deciding whether it would be better to get married before or after joining the military, the following information may be of use to you.
- Housing Allowance
A married service member receives a Housing Allowance while in basic training and follow-on job training (Technical School, AIT, A-School), in order to provide a household for his or her dependents, even though they are also living for free in government quarters (barracks). If you get married before joining the military, this tax-free housing allowance begins on the very first day of active duty (the first day of basic training).
If one waits until after joining the military to get married, the housing allowance becomes effective on the date of the marriage. However, one needs a "certified" copy of the marriage certificate to change their marital status, and (depending on the state) this can take a couple of weeks, or even a month to obtain. Even so, the housing allowance would be "backdated" to the date of the marriage.
- Medical Care
Dependents of active duty members are covered by the Military Medical System (Tricare Prime), effective the very first day of active duty. During basic training in-processing, the recruit completes paperwork to enroll their dependents in DEERS (Defense Eligibility Enrollment System DD Form 1172), and for a military dependent ID Card. The ID Card paperwork is mailed to the spouse who can then take it to any military installation and obtain a military dependent ID Card. If medical care is needed before getting the ID card, the spouse can keep the medical receipts, and then file for reimbursement later from Tricare or their region's Tricare office.
For more information on Tricare
- Family Separation Allowance
Married members are entitled to a Family Separation Allowance, when they are separated from their dependents, due to military orders. The tax-free allowance begins after separation of 30 days. This means married people in basic training and technical school (if the technical school duration is less than 20 weeks) begins to receive this pay 30 days after going on active duty. Single personnel do not receive this allowance.
- Movement of Dependents
Unless the first duty assignment is an unaccompanied (remote) overseas tour, the married military member is entitled to move their dependents (and personal property) to the first duty station at government expense (This is referred to as "Command Sponsored"). Travel entitlements end when one signs in at their new duty station, so whether or not one can be reimbursed for dependent travel depends on the date of the marriage.
For example, Airman Jones graduates technical school (Air Force Job Training), then goes home on leave en-route to his first duty assignment. While on leave, Airman Jones gets married. He then reports to his first duty station. He will be entitled to movement of dependents at government expense, because the date of the marriage was before he signed in at the duty station.
Another example: PFC Jackson finishes AIT (Army Job Training) and goes to his first duty assignment. A couple of weeks later, his fiance' flies down, and they get married. PFC Jackson cannot move his wife and her property to the duty assignment at government expense, because the marriage occurred after he completed his assignment move.
There is an exception to the above rule for certain overseas assignments. When a single person is assigned to a "long" overseas tour, the assignment length is generally 24 months (the unaccompanied tour length). For an accompanied married person, the tour length is usually 36 months. If a single person goes overseas on such a tour, then gets married during the tour, he/she can apply to move his dependents overseas, if they agree to extend his tour-length to the accompanied tour length.
In order to move dependents at government expense, one's "orders" must include authorization to do so. This means that if one gets married at the last minute before leaving job training, or if one gets married on leave en-route to the first assignment, the orders won't have this authorization on it, and will have to be amended after arrival. As the military rarely does paperwork very fast, this amendment process can sometimes take several weeks. This will delay the reimbursement of dependent moving expenses. If the member had gotten married before joining the military, his/her orders would have had dependent moving entitlements annotated originally, and would thereby avoid this delay in reimbursement.
This page is an EXCELLENT source of information for those spouses making their first PCS move: https://www.facebook.com/MCandFP?sk=notes
- Job Training
If technical school, AIT, or A-school is 20 weeks or longer in duration (at a single location), one is entitled to move their dependents to their school location at government expense. They are then (usually 30 days after arrival) allowed to live with their dependents after duty hours.
Single members, of course, cannot move their girl/boyfriends at government expense, nor will they be allowed to live off-base (even at their own expense) at job training locations.
In such cases, if the military member elects not to move his/her dependents, the Family Separation Allowance stops, because the member is not being forced to be separated (the dependents are allowed to move at government expense, so if they don't move, that's the member's choice). Of course, if the dependents do join the member, Family Separation Allowance stops, as well, as the member is no longer separated from his/her dependents due to military orders.
If the job training is less than 20 weeks, a married person can still elect to move his/her dependents (at his/her own expense), but would (usually) be allowed to live with them, off base (beginning 30 days after arrival), with the school commander's permission (as long as the student is doing okay in class, such permission is routinely granted). If the dependents do move to the member's school location, Family Separation Allowance stops.
The services require additional paperwork, additional processing, and sometime even waivers for members with dependents. For example, the Air Force requires a credit check for any member who is married or has ever been married. If you're in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), and decide to get married before shipping out to basic training, you'll want to check with your recruiter to determine (depending on what additional processing is required, and when you're shipping out) if this would possibly delay your shipping date.
- Dependent Support
All of the services have regulations which require military members to provide adequate support to their dependents. In fact, while in basic training and job school, you're being provided a housing allowance for the sole purpose of providing a place to live for your dependent family members. If your spouse makes an official complaint to your commander that you are failing or refusing to provide financial support, you could be in a heap of trouble. For details, see our article Child Support, Spouse Support, and Garnishment
While one doesn't want to think about divorce when they're anxious to get married, divorce is a real possibility (remember the 50 percent statistic). Military members should be aware that there is a special law that applies to them when it comes to divorce and retirement pay. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act allows any state court to treat your FUTURE military retired pay as joint property, to be divided with your spouse, in the event of a divorce. (Suggestion: You might want to consult an attorney regarding a prenuptial agreement.)
Military Weddings & Honeymoons - http://usmilitary.about.com/od/familydomestic/a/marriage.htm
Military Married to Military - http://usmilitary.about.com/od/familydomestic/a/militarycouples.htm
What the Recruiter Never Told You - http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/joiningup/a/recruiter.htm
Many get married during Graduation Weekend from BMT.
Since there is no waiting period. You can contact the Bexar County Court Services:
Bexar County Courthouse
101 W. Nueva, Ste 120
San Antonio, TX
- All applicants must provide proof of age and identity with a valid Texas drivers license, valid Texas DPS I.D., Military I.D., passport, or any certificate of License issued by this state, another state, the U.S. government or a foreign government.
- Each applicant is required to provide a Social Security card or proof of social security number.
- The cost is $66 cash (no checks) and $6 in Bexar County if couples bring in the "Together in Texas" certificate (www.twogetherintexas.com) . Prices may vary in different counties.
- The legal age to obtain a marriage license without parental consent in Texas is 18 years of age. Application of age is 16 with parental consent.
- No blood test is required.
- If either applicant has been recently divorced, the state requires a 30-day waiting period from the date of the filed divorce decree, unless waived by the court. Female applicants are required to submit a certified copy of final decree showing their restored maiden name if different from current identification.
- The license is good for 30 days from the date of purchase. However, there is a 72-hour waiting period from the time the license was purchased until the time the ceremony can be performed. Active duty military personnel are exempt. Both parties do not to need to be active military for the waiting period to be waived.
- Applicants between the ages of 16-18 must be accompanied by one parent, to sign legal consent. A minor must have a certified copy of birth certificate, photo I.D. and proof of Social Security. If parents are divorced, the parent granted custody must submit a certified copy of their divorce decree in order to sign consent.
I have the following contact information, however I have not dealt with him personally, but have not had one complaint.
Bexar County Marriages Louis Jensen 210.240.7637 Many get married during Graduation Weekend from BMT. Since there is no waiting period. You can contact the Bexar County Court Services: Bexar County Courthouse 101 W. Nueva, Ste 120San Antonio, TX210-335-2223