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Is adultery during divorce taken seriously by the military?

Given how long a divorce can take, there can be an uncomfortably long time between when your divorce is filed and when it's finally settled.

That means that there's a long period of time where you probably don't feel very married, yet you aren't quite free to start over in the eyes of the law, either.

If you're a member of the military, can you get into trouble with your superiors if you start dating again before your divorce is final? Is it considered adultery?

It all depends on what you consider "dating." Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there are three different conditions that have to be met in order for a soldier to be considered guilty of adultery:

-- He or she had sexual intercourse.

-- Either the soldier or his or her sexual partner was legally married to someone else at the time of the intercourse.

-- The conduct is enough to affect the order and discipline of the soldier's unit or branch or could somehow bring discredit to the military.

It's that last condition that can be somewhat problematic for a military member because it can be open to interpretation by the military member's superiors.

If the couple has a signed, legal separation in place, the military may take that into consideration -- but a soldier's commanders may also look into just about any circumstances that they see as relevant to the issue.

The reality is that adultery is seldom a solo charge -- it is usually a charge that is tacked onto other charges, like providing liquor to minors, lying to superior officers or getting sexually involved with someone under his or her direct command.

It's important to note that adultery is a serious crime under military law -- a soldier can face hard labor, up to a year in confinement, and the forfeiture of all retirement pay along with either a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge.

Any soldier seeking a divorce is well-advised to hire an attorney who is familiar with the complexities of a military divorce.

Source: Military.com, "Legal Separation, Adultery and the UCMJ," Christopher M. Kenny, accessed April 14, 2017

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