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How military divorce differs from civilian divorce

Happy Veterans Day to all military service members, and a heartfelt thank you for your service!

Today we will discuss a few ways in which military divorce is different from civilian divorce. Although a military divorce follows the same process as civilian divorce and takes place in the same family court setting, there are unique rules and factors that apply. 

A concern that often arises at the onset of a military divorce has to do with jurisdiction. In a civilian divorce, jurisdiction usually is not an issue if the parties are living in the same state.

However, a military member and his or her spouse are often living in separate states or sometimes the military member is deployed. Many states have residency requirements of a year or more in order to file for divorce, so it can be difficult to know where or when to file.

A second issue that needs to be addressed in military divorce cases has to do with the martial property division. Military pay, disability benefits and retirement benefits can be treated like property that is divided during the divorce. Special federal laws apply in addition to the state statutes that apply to all divorce cases.

A third issue that can be very unique in military divorce cases is that of child custody. Military parents who are deployed or frequently relocate may choose to give up custody temporarily and then face challenges trying to reestablish custody rights upon their return.

Finally, the spouses of military members should know that there are several protections that are afforded to them under federal law. Additionally, service members should know that they can face harsh penalties for failing to provide the ordered financial support to their children.

For these reasons, it’s very important to find a divorce lawyer who has experience handling military family law cases and understands the special subset of laws that apply. Check out our Military Divorce Attorney page for more information.