failure to protect military spouses

US Military Fails to Financially Protect Spouses


Ayo & Iken Tampa Attorney Jeana Vogel has taken on a divorce case that offers a stark reminder of the sacrifice spouses of military personnel make and the risks they can take financially should their marriages dissolve overseas.

Our client, Melissa Henry, is willing to tell her painful story of divorce and financial difficulty as she is seeking temporary alimony to pay her bills in a foreign country she went to in order to support her husband’s military career.

Melissa married her husband, Shawn, in Tampa, in May 2012. He later joined the military and embarked on a deployment to the U.S. Army base in Vicenza, Italy, bringing along Melissa and her high-school-age daughter from another marriage.

But by June 2015 things went south in the marriage. Melissa said she discovered Shawn had another lover; he left the family, and filed for divorce against her.

Melissa, now 35-years-old, agreed that the marriage is broken, but what is not sitting well with her is the abandonment of her husband’s financial responsibilities as she tries to stay afloat in Italy long enough for her daughter to graduate high school this year.

Our client is also outspoken over her surprise at the military’s lack of response as she has sought help from the Army in seeking financial help from her husband. Under U.S. Army rules, she cannot work to support herself either, as dependents are not allowed to take jobs away from the domestic economy.

While Melissa’s divorce case is working its way through the courts in Tampa, where she has also sought temporary relief, she has relied on family members at home to help her financially as she has no other recourse stationed in Italy.

“I am lucky, I have a strong family and though it’s been difficult I can move on,” she said. “But I want everyone to know about this so it doesn’t happen to other women in this situation. What about the mother with five children, with no money other than what her husband is making overseas? What about the mother with no education who is not mentally and physically able to move on like I am?”

Melissa is available to discuss her situation from Italy with media outlets and any organizations seeking to make changes to what she views as a broken system for military spouses.

“I just don’t want my husband or the military to think they can throw me away that easily. And I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” she said.

To discuss similar cases with our Attorney Jeana Vogel please contact Ayo & Iken’s Tampa office at 813-774-4529 ext 255.


Attorney Jeana Vogel

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