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How state and federal laws affect military divorce

Military divorces share many similarities with civilian divorces, however, there are certain rules and requirements that are different during a military divorce. The divorce process can be challenging for any couple, so it is useful to have an understanding of the process in advance.

Both state and federal laws apply to military divorces. Federal laws can impact what court the couple's divorce ends up in or how a military pension is divided, while state laws can impact spousal support. In addition, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal law that prevents divorce proceedings during active duty service. Under the SCRA, service men and women cannot generally be sued or have divorce proceedings initiated against them during active duty or 60 days following active duty to allow them to focus on their service.

To begin the divorce process, military couples may have different courts, or jurisdictions, to file their divorce with, including the state where the spouse filing for divorce resides; the state where the military member is stationed; or the state where the military member claims legal residency. The laws of the state where the divorce petition is filed will govern divorce-related issues, including property division, child custody and child support concerns.

While military divorces are similar to civilian divorces in many ways, divorcing military couples should also be aware that military divorce-related concerns can be complex. This is why being familiar with the military divorce process and having trained guidance throughout can be helpful. Any divorce can be difficult, which is why the better prepared divorcing couples are, the smoother the process may be for the couple.


Source: FindLaw, "Military Divorce," Accessed March 5, 2018

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