WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

View all
Laws current as of June 21, 2024

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 Service member spouse because s/he has been separated from the military due to domestic abuse or a child abuse offense, you and your child might qualify for the Transitional Compensation (TC) Program. The TC Program provides for financial, medical, dental, grocery (commissary), and other goods/products (exchange) privileges to eligible dependents of Service members.

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 TC if:

  1. the Service member has served at least 30 days on active duty;
  2. you are not living with your current or former spouse, or you are the child of a Service member;
  3. you or your abused child were living with the Service member when the abuse occurred; and
  4. one of the following is true:
  • the Service member’s commander has begun administrative separation from active duty procedures against the Service member 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 as a result of the conviction; or
  • s/he is sentenced to forfeiture of all pay and allowances.1

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

  • the administrative separation action starts; or
  • the court-martial sentence is given, if the sentence is a dismissal, dishonorable discharge, or total forfeiture of pay and allowances.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 set aside or the sentence is reduced and no longer includes a dismissal, dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, or forfeiture of all pay and allowances; or
  • the administrative separation is disapproved.1

If the commander is considering separating the abusive Service member 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 TC Program, military service regulations require Service members to provide “adequate support,” which includes child support, to their family members. 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 abuse victims may become more vulnerable when stationed overseas since there are likely to be fewer resources available both on and off the installation. However, the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) does provide services outside of the United States. You can find information about the FAP by searching for your installation online at the Military One Source website.

You can also find your closest domestic abuse victim advocate by going to DoD Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator on Military OneSource.

In addition, Pathways to Safety International provides support to victims of gender-based violence with a special focus on obstacles American survivors face overseas. 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 Service member, the military may still act if s/he commits a domestic violence offense that would be punishable by more than one year in prison if committed within the United States. The abusive civilian spouse/partner can be prosecuted:

  • in a court in the host nation where you are stationed;
  • by the Department of Justice, in a federal court in the U.S. if the host nation declines to prosecute; or
  • by the military through the Uniform Code of Military Justice if the person harming you is a Service member.1

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. If you have relocated overseas, are the victim of abuse, and your safety is at risk, you can request relocation to the United States through the “early return of dependents” option by contacting the Service member’s commander. The military may pay to transport household items and a vehicle that is titled in your name or the Service member’s name when you relocate back to your home location.

1 18 U.S.C. § 3261