In Washington and beyond, members of the U.S. military are to be commended for their service. Their spouses and children also make great sacrifices for the good of the country.

Like all married couples, those that involve a military service member and a non-enlisted spouse often go through tough times, especially if deployment occurs. In many cases, the strain on a relationship is too much to bear and one or the other spouse files for divorce.

If you are a non-enlisted spouse who is considering filing for divorce, the are several issues you will want to keep in mind.

The more you know ahead of time regarding laws or regulations or other issues that may be relevant in a military divorce, the less stressful and disruptive the process might be.

The military family care plan may be an integral component of your divorce

As a non-enlisted spouse who is married to a military service member, you might already be familiar with the military family care plan. If your spouse deploys, there may be instructions regarding child custody or issues about child care incorporated into the plan. If you and your spouse divorce, you will want to carefully review the terms of his or her military family care plan.

For instance, a service member might state in a care plan that a certain person is to have custody of his or her children during deployment, and that person might be someone other than you. It is best to discuss such issues before you finalize your divorce and to ensure that the terms of the military family care plan align with the terms of your child custody agreement.

Things to know if you plan to sue for sole custody

Another issue to be aware of as a non-enlisted spouse who is filing for a divorce is that your military spouse is protected against litigation during deployment under the Service members Civil Relief Act, which means you cannot initiate a request for sole child custody when your ex cannot be present during proceedings due to a military deployment.

There are also laws that protect you as a former spouse of a service member

Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, you may be entitled to certain benefits if you remain unmarried after your divorce.

There are eligibility requirements, such as the requirement for marriage longevity. In order to qualify for benefits, you must have been married to your military spouse for at least 20 years at the time you file for divorce.

The benefits to which you may be entitled as a non-enlisted, former spouse of a military service member include commissary privileges, medical benefits and access to the military exchange.

Certain issues would create ineligibility, which is why it is important to speak with someone who is well-versed in military divorce laws to be sure that you understand all relevant topics.