Members of the military know all too well about getting married earlier than sometimes is normally planned at the Justice of the Peace to save or make a little extra money. Everyone has their own reasons whether or not they get married “twice”, once at the court house and then later in a ceremony. And, there are several factors that should be considered when deciding on the timing of marriage. The peace of mind, safety, and security a legal relationship can provide a spouse is also a forgotten benefit of an early marriage.
More Money. Like earning more Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), having dependents allows you to earn more money…especially when you move to a new duty assignment during a PCS move. Married military members earn more travel allowances and a higher rate of dislocation allowance (DLA) relative to their unmarried counterparts. When a service member is deployed, the differences in pay between married and single Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines can also be staggering.
Housing Preference. Married enlisted members of the military normally do not have to live in the barracks when they are married. So, the sooner a Soldier gets married, the sooner he or she can have more freedom in the choice of where to live.
More Safety. Spouses have more rights. Period. You would think that statement would be a no brainer, but it is not at times. Lets say, God forbid, that something happens to a Soldier. In most states, his or her estate would skip probate and be discharged straight to the spouse without the need for court intervention. A spouse has the right to decide what happens to your body, where you are buried, can receive the flag from your coffin, receive survivor benefits, etc. without much hassle since the heir is known. A loved one who is not your spouse has the potential to be cut out of the loop altogether with respect to these decisions and disbursements.
But there is more to life than just money. I have a friend who recently go back from Iraq, and he and his fiancÃ© refused to get married “on paper” before he left on this deployment because they wanted a traditional church wedding with their families present. The consequence of losing thousands of dollars did not sway their convictions in the least.
Some friends and I actually calculated the cost of lost allowances and benefits to our friend for his specific situation when he chose not to get married before his deployment. And, it looked something like this…
Dislocation Allowance = $3,000 (all figures approximate)
Housing Allowance = $14,400
Cost of Living Adjustment = $4,800
Family Separation = $5,400
GRAND TOTAL = 27,600
There are more important things than money. And, it comes down to a personal cost benefit analysis that we all must make with our significant others when coming up with our own decisions.