If you are in the military (or are the spouse of a servicemember) and are considering getting a divorce, you may assume that the process is the same as civilian divorces. Although this is true to a certain extent, there are a couple of key differences between civilian and military divorces.
Where you file for divorce
In civilian divorces, couples typically must file for divorce in the state where they currently reside. However, as a member of the military, you have a choice between several jurisdictions. It is important to choose one with laws that are favorable to your interests, as your choice will affect important issues like child support and spousal support. Generally, you can file your divorce in the state:
· Where the military spouse is stationed
· Where the non-military spouse resides
· Where the military spouse holds legal residence
While the majority of civilian divorces are governed solely by state law, military divorces also are governed by federal law. For example, federal law may affect how child support is enforced or how military pensions are divided. Additionally, state law primarily governs child custody and support issues.
Additionally, the divorce proceedings themselves may be delayed while a spouse is on active duty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects all servicemembers from being sued, which includes a divorce, while they are on active duty and up to 60 days after they return from deployment.
Because the differences between military and civilian divorces can often raise complex questions and issues, it is vital to have the assistance of a family law attorney that is well versed in the nuances of military divorce. An attorney can help protect your rights and help to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.