WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

View all
Updated: 
October 9, 2019

If I leave my spouse/partner due to domestic abuse, is there any financial compensation available to me through the military?

If you are no longer living with your abusive spouse, you and your child might qualify for the Transitional Compensation (TC) Program. The TC Program provides for financial, medical, dental, commissary (grocery), and exchange (other goods/products) privileges to eligible dependents of service members when the member has been separated from the military due to domestic abuse or a child abuse offense.

Note: Unmarried intimate partners are not considered dependents of the service members and therefore do not qualify for transitional compensation on their own. However, children of unmarried parents may qualify for the TC program if they are victims of child abuse or neglect by a service member parent. If a child qualifies, then TC payments could be made to the non-abusive parent.

You may be eligible for transitional compensation if:

  1. the service member has served at least 30 days on active duty;
  2. you are no longer living with your spouse;
  3. you were married to, or you are the child of, a service member;
  4. you were living with your spouse when the abuse occurred; and
  5. one of the following is true:
  • the service member has been administratively separated from active duty due to abuse of a family member; or
    • the service member was convicted by court-martial of an abuse offense and either:
      • s/he is separated from active duty after the conviction; or
      • s/he is sentenced to forfeiture of all pay and allowances.1

The payments are made once a month for up to 36 months and will begin on the date when:

  • the administrative separation starts;
  • the court-martial sentence is given; or
  • the court-martial pre-trial agreement is approved.1

You will no longer be eligible to receive transitional compensation benefits if:

  • you remarry;
  • you resume living with the service member;
  • the abuser’s conviction is reduced to a lower punishment; or
  • the administrative separation is revoked (canceled).1

If the commander is considering separating your spouse from the military, you may want to check with your FAP victim advocate to make sure the commander prepares the appropriate documentation for you to receive TC benefits. The FAP can also help you to find out what the monthly compensation amount will be for you and your family.

Note: Even if you do not qualify for the Transitional Compensation Program, military service regulations require service members to provide “adequate support,” which includes child support, to their family members.1 You can talk to the installation legal office for more information.

1 See DoD Instruction 1342.24, Transitional Compensation for Abused Dependents

If I am stationed overseas, where can I get help for domestic abuse?

Domestic violence victims may become more vulnerable when stationed overseas since there are likely to be fewer services available both on and off the installation. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) does provide services outside of the United States, and a victim advocate is available at every military installation where families are assigned. You can find information about the FAP by searching for your installation online at the Military One Source website. In addition, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides online chat services 24/7, and can be a resource for immediate emotional support and safety planning. You can also find organizations that help victims overseas on our National Organizations – International page.

If your spouse/partner is a civilian, which includes government employees, civilian contractors, or family members of a military service member, the military can still take action against him/her if s/he commits a domestic violence felony. Your abusive civilian spouse/partner can be prosecuted as follows:

  • in a court in the host nation where you are stationed;
  • in a federal court in the U.S. if the host nation declines to prosecute; or
  • through the Uniform Code of Military Justice if the person harming you is a service member.

Note: If you are a civilian and your spouse is a service member who is being relocated overseas, the military does not require you to relocate overseas with him/her. In fact, families with histories of domestic abuse may be ruled out for overseas relocation because of increased vulnerability and reduced access to services. If you have relocated overseas already but you are a victim of abuse and feel your safety is at risk, you can request relocation to the United States through the “early return of dependents” option. The military may allow you to transport household items and a vehicle that is in your name or the service member’s name when you relocate early.

Where can I find additional resources?

We list a lot of military-specific and veteran-specific resources on our National Organizations - Military page. For example, there is a link to the Department of Defense (“DoD”) Safe Helpline (877-995-5247), which offers crisis support service for members of the DoD (military) community affected by sexual assault. It provides live, one-on-one advice, support, and information to the worldwide DoD community over the phone or through a live-chat feature. The service is anonymous, secure, and available 24/7 – providing victims with the help they need, anytime, anywhere.