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What is different about a military divorce?

Most regular divorce proceedings are complicated affairs, but if a military couple decides to dissolve their marriage they must consider additional state and federal laws as they go about the process. These specific laws determine how either party can go about filing for a divorce and they determine how the process will progress.

It is not uncommon for military employees to move around the nation and the world. Because of this, you must make sure that you are familiar with the laws of the state in which the divorce is filed. Military divorces are subject to both state and federal laws, so your first consideration will be divorce requirements particular to that state. After that, you must consider whether or not the military service member involved is currently protected under the Serviemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Under SCRA, divorce proceedings and/or suits against a military service member are delayed while the member is on active-duty. Those legal actions against military personnel cannot be enacted until 60 day after their active duty has ended. The purpose of this act is to allow military personnel to focus entirely on devoting their time and energy to the service of the nation instead of worrying about potential legal actions against them.

Once the 60 days following the end of active duty have passed, divorce proceedings can continue. However, you will have to consider the relevant jurisdiction.


Military couples have more options than civilian couples when it comes to filing for divorce. Whereas a civilian couple would have to file for divorce in the state in which they reside, military couples have three options. They can file for divorce in:

· The state in which the spouse legally resides.

· The state in which the service member legally resides.

· The state in which the service member is stationed.

Because of these options, you will want to become familiar with the divorce laws of each area, as one may be more advantageous for you than the others. This is also the point at which having the assistance of an experienced legal professional that is familiar with the different state and federal laws is very useful. In addition to state and federal laws, military couples will also have to consider the division of military benefits.

Military benefits

The Uniformed Services Former Souses' Protection Act (USFSPA) allows state courts to divide military pensions and benefits just as they would other marital assets. However, it is usually up to the state courts to determine whether or not the benefits will be legally considered separate or marital property.

If a military couple was married for 20 years or more, the military service member performed 20 years or more of service or there was 20 or more years of overlap of military service and marriage, former spouses are also eligible for full exchange, commissary and medical benefits.

Because military divorces involved many state and federal laws, it is highly suggested that you utilize the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional who is familiar with these types of cases. They will be able to work with you to provide the most beneficial situation possible.

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