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Military divorce jurisdiction laws

While the drafting and filing of military divorce papers is no different than a civilian divorce, some special laws have been put in place to expand the jurisdiction in which a military divorce can be filed.

Civilian divorces must be filed in the county of residence where the filing party lived the majority of the prior six months. However, in a divorce where one or both parties are active military personnel, there are three options for where the proceedings may be initiated. These are: in the state where the filing spouse resides, in the state where the military member is stationed, or in the state where the military member claims legal residency.

Military divorce is considered both a state and a federal matter. Whereas federal laws apply to all states, the state laws in the filing jurisdiction will apply to matters such as alimony, child support and division of assets. For this reason, it is highly recommended to consult with an attorney who can determine which jurisdiction will be most beneficial. One state may facilitate divorce under community property laws, while another may practice equitable distribution. When assets, such as military pensions and retirements are at stake, understanding the differences in these types of laws can provide a much more favorable outcome.

It is also worth mentioning that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is available to active service members. This Act allows for an application for approval of a stay. If granted, a stay will halt any civil action while active duty is in progress, to allow the service member to maintain focus, time, and energy on their current assignment.

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