Five Common Questions About Military Divorce

When a military marriage dissolves, couples tend to have very different questions and concerns about the divorce process than those shared by most civilian couples. Are you in the military, or a military spouse, going through a divorce or separation? Every couple’s situation is unique, but here is a look at four commonly asked questions about military divorce.

Q: Where do I file for divorce?

A: There are three places where a military divorce may be filed: 1) The state where the military spouse lives; 2) The state where the servicemember is stationed; and 3) The state in which the servicemember is a legal resident.

Q: Can I get a court delay because I am currently active duty?

A: According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, the courts can delay civil proceedings, such as divorce proceedings, while a service member is on active duty (and for 60 days following active duty). A servicemember may, however, decide to go through with his or her divorce while on active duty.

Q: I am filing for divorce, but my spouse is currently stationed overseas filing. How my spouse be served divorce papers?

A: If a military member is oversees, it may be difficult to serve him or her with divorce papers. It is possible to request service through the military authority, but the military spouse must agree to accept the service.

Q: I am currently stationed overseas. How will this affect child custody?

A: If a parent is stationed overseas, a temporary order may be put in place with a stipulation that the order will need to be modified when he or she returns from service. In the case of parents living in different states, it often boils down to the question of what parenting schedule best reflects what is best for the children? For more about child custody and military service in New Jersey, see our recent blog post: New Jersey Gives Military Parents Added Protection for Child Custody & Visitation Issues.

Q: How will getting a military divorce affect my military retirement plan?

A: The division of military retirement benefits is dissimilar to the division of other retirement plans. How much money a spouse can receive depends on how much time a military member has served in the military and how much of that time overlapped with his or her marriage.

For more on military divorce, please read our complete guide to military divorce. For answers to your specific questions about military divorce, please contact us for an initial consultation.