The Differences Between Military and Civilian Divorce 

Military Divorce Lawyer

Marriage can be hard, and a marriage in which one or both spouses are in the military can be even harder. It’s no surprise that when it comes to the military, the divorce rates are slightly higher than those in the civilian population. 

If you are facing a divorce, there are some things that you should know about military divorce. Divorce is governed by state law, but there are some federal laws in place that will affect the divorce process if you or your spouse are in the military. Here are some of the ways that a military divorce is different to a civilian divorce.


You may have a choice of where to file for divorce and it might matter to your finances

 Just like in a civilian divorce, you need to do so in a state that has jurisdiction over the people in the case. Typically, this means the state where the service member lives or both of you have legal residents. While this differs from state to state, in most cases, if you have lived there for six months or more, you can claim legal residents. 

The Uniform Service Former Spouses Protection Act (USFPA) states of the service member’s state of legal residence always have the authority to divide the military pension. This is why, while it may make sense to divorce in your state, you may want to reconsider if you are the service member. Since the division of pensions is always complicated is important that you contact a military lawyer to help you through filing for divorce.

Your divorce could take longer

The Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is to protect service members abroad from the distraction of having to deal with civil litigation, like divorce, at home, so they can focus on their military missions. This means that the SCRA allows for filing extensions and prevents courts from making final rulings and legal matters until the service member can be present. This is great news if you’re the spouse in the military, but if you aren’t, it could mean that the divorce proceedings can take far longer than if you were just a civilian.


Child custody issues can be more complicated

 No matter who you are, resolving disputes about child custody is rarely easy. It gets even more complicated in the military divorce when one parent may be deployed or have duties that are not always compatible with the care of a child. In the past, it was more difficult for active duty service members to be awarded custody, but today the courts are more inclined to focus on the overall best entrance of the children rather than assuming the military parent cannot take care of their child.

We understand that going through a divorce is a difficult time. It is why we suggest hiring a military divorce lawyer like our friends at Robinson & Hadeed to help you through this process and make it go as smoothly as possible.