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The origins of the Dear John letter are a bit unclear. It almost certainly stems from the fact that John is one of the more popular English-language names in history. But that specific phrase, especially for soldiers, has become a harbinger of a breakup.

Essentially, a Dear John letter is one that a solider gets while he or she is deployed. It is from a significant other, and it tells the solider that the relationship is over. In some cases, this just means they’re no longer dating. For married soldiers, though, it means they suddenly have to start thinking about divorce even though they may be thousands of miles from home.

This raises a lot of concerns. Some questions that military members may have about the process include:

  • Will being deployed or being in the military hurt their chances of getting custody of their children?
  • How can they protect their jointly owned assets when their spouse has full physical control of them at the moment?
  • Can their spouse file while they are deployed or do they have to wait until they get back?
  • How do they find a lawyer even though they’re not in the United States?
  • What impact will this have on things like military benefits or living options?
  • Are there any special steps that they need to take?

Remember, the deployment may not end for months. The military doesn’t just ship someone home because their spouse asked for a divorce. Be sure you take the time to really consider your options and the legal steps you’ll need to take.