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Can I Get a Divorce if My Spouse Is in the Military

Posted on May 25, 2022 at 12:20 AM

Can I Get a Divorce if My Spouse Is in the Military?



Yes, you can get a divorce if you or your spouse serve in the United States military. Some of the issues like jurisdiction, child custody, and visitation might get impacted by the fact that one or both of you are members of the armed forces, but a family law attorney can guide you through those issues.


What Is a Military Divorce?


Although people often call it a “military divorce” when one or both spouses are service members, state law will apply to the case. The lawsuit will get filed in a regular civil court, not in a military court.


Some special rules might apply, such as where the lawsuit can get filed. The military spouse might be able to delay the divorce proceeding but cannot prevent the dissolution of marriage from happening eventually.


If the other spouse makes certain allegations against the military spouse, the military might take punitive action against the service member. Things like domestic violence, adultery, and child abuse can be violations of military law.


What Is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and How Can It Impact a Divorce Case?


Congress created the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to shield active-duty military personnel from getting distracted by negative things happening at home. A member of the military might not be able to devote full attention to combat or other mission duties while getting sued for divorce, foreclosure, or other events.


The SCRA gives service members the option to delay court proceedings until they can make arrangements to come home and appear in court. The SCRA does not automatically postpone lawsuits. The military spouse has to file papers with the court asking for relief under the Act.


The military spouse does not have to delay the divorce case. In fact, the military spouse can initiate the dissolution proceeding. Often, as in a non-contested divorce, the parties sign agreements and resolve their differences amicably.


Where Can a Military Divorce Get Filed?


The divorcing spouses can reach an agreement on the issue of jurisdiction and ask a court to accept jurisdiction. The parties will need to show sufficient connections with that state for the court to agree to handle the divorce.


When the parties cannot agree, the military spouse will have more control over the location of filing than the non-military spouse. The divorce will have to get filed in the state where the military spouse currently lives or is a resident.


A person can be a resident of a different state than where he currently lives. For example, a college student might go to school out-of-state while maintaining his home state as his residence. For a military spouse, the court will look to factors like the state where the service member votes, pays income taxes and has a driver’s license.


How Do Divorce Courts Calculate Spousal and Child Support in a Military Divorce?


Military paychecks are different from typical civilian paychecks because many members of the armed forces get allowances for housing, health insurance, work-related daycare, and other items in addition to their base pay. Your divorce attorney will need additional information to calculate support obligation.


State law will control the amount of child and spousal support the obligated party must pay. The military must honor and enforce the terms of the state court’s divorce decree.


Child Custody and Visitation in a Military Divorce


Getting deployed to a different location is part of the military experience for many service members, but that can turn child custody and visitation arrangements upside-down. One option is to try to address the issue proactively by writing terms into the original divorce decree about future relocations.


A family law attorney at the Faulstich Law firm can help you navigate the process if you are contemplating or going through a military divorce.


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