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Special considerations for military families facing divorce

Divorce is a challenging and stressful process as two people separate their lives.

While divorce is a difficult process for anyone who goes through it, military members seeking a divorce have additional challenges that non-military families do not face.

Military rules and regulations

While every couple that divorces must follow the legal requirements of the state in which they file, divorces that involve a member of the military must follow additional rules. There are specific laws enacted that pertain to military divorce. For instance, if the non-military spouse files for divorce, they must have a signed affidavit of consent from the military spouse to ensure that the military spouse can attend necessary proceedings. There are also specific rules about how to serve divorce papers to someone on active duty.

Where to file

States grant divorces, not the military. Military families often have spouses who live in different states or countries due to active duty. Because of this, when military couples divorce, they generally have a choice of where to file. In most cases, they may file in the state where the non-military spouse resides, in the state where the military member claims residence or in the state where the military spouse is currently stationed.

Division of assets, retirement and benefits

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act allows the court to treat military retired pay as an asset and divide it accordingly if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and included at least 10 years of military service. Former spouses may qualify for additional benefits like healthcare after divorce if not remarried.

Free legal assistance is available for military members seeking a divorce. The military member and the spouse can seek separate legal assistance.


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