The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

44 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Know your rights. Find a lawyer who is licensed to practice in the state to which you are moving, as every state has different custody, filing and residency requirements. Both FLO and AFSA maintain lists of D.C.-based lawyers; contact someone at the State Department’s WorkLife4You program for lawyers outside of Washington, D.C. Make sure you understand what you are entitled to before signing anything regarding the employee’s future retirement benefits and health insurance coverage. Remember your strengths. “I have a job now, with benefits,” says Jennifer. “A car. A house.” Looking back, she recalls weeks and months of pain and confusion; but, she says, “I was a For- eign Service badass like all spouses are, and it helped. EFMs are faced with so much change, adapting over and over. You learn from that; you get strong from that. Getting through this divorce, well, it’s just like we do when we move. We’re looking for the gro- cery stores, learning to talk, trying to find new friends. We learn how to solve problems in the Foreign Service.” That resilience helped her get through her worst days. State’s Responsibility EFMs give up so many things when they follow their spouses overseas, from steady employment to close relationships with life-long friends and family. And they do this even knowing that their sacrifices aren’t necessarily appreciated or even noticed by post management or the State Department as an institution. When things go badly, as they sometimes do when families move from post to post, the State Department has a responsibil- ity to step up and help these spouses, who have sacrificed their careers, their financial independence and their emotional health in service of our country. n “We’re so used to relying on the embassy, and all of a sudden it’s not my embassy, it’s his embassy. My support system fell out from under my feet.”