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23 Jul 16

How do I proceed with a military divorce?

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For couples where one or both are members of the military, life can get complicated when it comes time to divorce. Unlike civilian divorces, where both spouses are present and it’s easy to determine where to file for divorce, military couples may not be able to have easy answers to these and other questions. However, while the process may be a bit more difficult for these couples, obtaining a divorce is still possible. By doing some research and using an attorney with experience in these matters, the process can nevertheless offer a smooth transition into a new life.

Where to File for Divorce
Of all the tasks these couples must do when filing for divorce, choosing the right state from which to file for divorce may be the most important. Since laws vary from state to state, this choice will determine how easily the divorce proceeds as well as what type of divorce agreement may be reached along the way. For example, if a couple decides to file for divorce in Puerto Rico, courts there will not divide a military pension between a service member and their spouse. Therefore, while this would greatly benefit one spouse, it would certainly pose a detriment to the other. As a result, the spouse seeking to file for divorce should determine which state in which they lived would benefit them most in a divorce agreement.

Separation Period
Another factor for these couples to take into consideration is the separation period that may be required by some states. For example, states such as Florida and Texas have no required separation period, while North Carolina requires a one-year separation before granting a divorce. However, some states choose to recognize a deployment as a couple’s separation, which in some cases can make the process much smoother and quicker. In these cases, the deployment can be viewed as the separation period if one spouse intended for the separation to be permanent once the deployment began.

Filing During a Deployment
In situations where one spouse is very eager to obtain a divorce, they may choose to file for divorce while their spouse is deployed. However, most attorneys advise against doing so for a variety of reasons. Depending upon where the spouse is deployed, logistics can make it extremely difficult to serve them with the divorce papers, which can make an already complicated situation even more so for everyone involved. Also, many states have legal protections in place for the deployed spouse, allowing them to take advantage of postponements and continuances until they return home. In addition, many attorneys advise against filing during a deployment because doing so could distract the service member from their mission, which could put them and others around them at risk.

While a military divorce may prove to be more difficult in some ways than a civilian divorce, it’s still important to make sure the attorneys involved are ones who have had experience in these matters. Whether it’s deciding which state in which you lived offers the most favorable possibilities for a divorce agreement or trying to determine if obtaining a no-fault divorce would be best, these situations are filled with many complex issues. By using an attorney skilled in these matters, it should be possible to obtain results that will work best for everyone.

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