💔 By Domani Spero
As part of its Speaker Series, AFSA is presenting a panel discussion on divorce in the Foreign Service this week. On Tuesday, July 30 at 2 pm, AFSA and the Department of State’s Divorce Working Group will present “a seminar and panel discussion on the sensitive yet important topic of divorce in the Foreign Service.” The announcement says that this is “a great opportunity to become a resource on this issue for colleagues at your post or in your bureau who may go through such a life change; or in the event that this may affect you at some point.”
Expected to participate in the event are the following: Susan Frost, the Director of the Family Liaison Office (FLO), will moderate the discussion; Panelists will include Daniel Hirsch, Management Officer and former AFSA Vice President for the Department of State; Work-Life Specialist Elizabeth Royal; Chief Policy Adviser of the Office of Retirement Jacqueline Long; and Sharon Zarozny, founder of Brilliant Exits LLC, a divorce consulting and support group.
Among the topics to be covered are what happens at post when a family splits up and what spouses’ rights are upon divorce. Handouts and resources will be available during the event and as always, the session will be recorded and made available for online viewing through our web site and YouTube channel. This program takes place at AFSA HQ, 2101 E Street NW, at 2:00 pm on July 30. RSVPs are required for this event and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About a year ago, the Director General of the Foreign Service Linda Thomas-Greenfield, then in office for barely a month sent out an ALDAC on Providing Adequately for Spouse, Partner, and Children Due to Separation and/or Impending Dissolution of Marriage or Domestic Partnership. Below is an excerpt:
Marital separations, divorce, and the dissolution of domestic partnerships are difficult, emotionally trying times for Foreign Service employees and their families. The stress and logistical difficulties are exacerbated while an employee is posted abroad. It has come to my attention that some spouses, partners, and children depart post on Advance Travel Orders, when there is an impending dissolution of a marriage or domestic partnership, without the basic requirements to set up a home and sustain themselves. As a result, these families are put in the position of having to seek help from relatives and friends and, in some cases, from public assistance. The failure to adequately arrange for a spouse/partner or children’s transition from post can reflect adversely upon the U.S. government. Moreover, the COM and the Department have a legitimate concern in the welfare of family members accompanying employees to post and the overall morale at post.
That this went out as an ALDAC probably means that there were more than one or two of these cases. Read in full here.
Did you hear about that case from years back when a mid-level official left his family for another officer, decamped to a hotel and cause a minor scandal at post? Maybe the wife had no lawyer, or had a bad one, but we heard that she could not even afford to go to a fast food restaurant after she returned to the DC area!
What would you do if under a murky separation agreement, you had to call ex-dear hubby every month to remind him to send money so the kids can eat? Do you know what to do if you’re asked to sign a quit claim to your spouse’s pension? Should you accept the house with a mortgage as part of a settlement? Is anyone at the State Department assigned a role as spouse’s advocate during this difficult and sometimes nasty process? Spouses/partners with 52 weeks of creditable employment overseas get Executive Order Eligibility, what happens if you cannot find a job within the time limit prescribed under E.O. 12721?
All would be great questions for this panel on Tuesday. Below are some reading materials provided by AFSA:
- FLO Guidance: Divorce and the Foreign Service
- Post Management Role for Couples Divorcing at Post
- Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in the Foreign Service
- Legal Referral Services
- Rights of Divorcing Foreign Service Spouses and Partners
- “Dealing with Divorce” (AFSA News, September 2012)
- ALDAC: Providing Adequately for Spouse, Partner, and Children Due to Separation and/or Impending Dissolution of Marriage or Domestic Partnership (Telegram from DOS Director General, May 12, 2012)
Not a fun subject but …. something one might want to keep in the brain’s back pocket.
Blog Note — this blog is having a mental health break; nah, not a breakdown dears, just a much needed break. Plus need to tear apart my whole bathroom (old house, long story). So blogging may be on pause for the next couple of weeks. Apologies, too for the slow mail from my end. Will get back to you as soon as I am able.