No one wants to think about their security clearance or job prospects when going through a divorce. Unfortunately, with background investigations and the power of information, things can get messy. Whether an ex provided negative information to a background investigator or your financial status has changed, your divorce proceedings can negatively impact your clearance status. So, regardless of how things shake out personally, keeping your clearance status in mind can help you avoid negative ramifications in your professional life.
Divorce and Your Security Clearance
Just like marriage, a divorce is something you’ll need to report to your security officer and list on your SF-86. Why? The government isn’t interested in all of the messy details, but your divorce legal proceedings are fair game in a security clearance investigation. Your adherence to the legalities of your divorce, including alimony, child support, and custody arrangements, factor into how the government judges your reliability and trustworthiness. If you’re divorced, make sure you follow any court orders. Failure to do so could impact your security clearance and your job.
Prevention of Issues Easier than Cure
And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel to ensure terminology is correct. Involving legal counsel from the outset – whether you’re just completing your SF-86 or reporting your marital status change to your FSO, can help ensure you are documenting the details accurately. Correct documentation can be the difference between only a few hours of a lawyers time compared to a much higher legal bill later on due to clearance litigation.
Bottom line: Be sure to follow through with all timelines, documentation, and financial obligations. An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure when it comes to maintaining your security clearance. Keep your adjudicative guidelines close as a reminder of what to keep your eye on, and do not be slow to engage legal advice for documentation.