According to the Pentagon, 3.1% of its enlisted men and women had undergone divorce in 2014. These numbers are down from 2011’s peak 3.7%. Still, the process of military divorce, since it involves federal funds, involves a much more selective set of rules — down to where and when the couple files the divorce.
The Right Place
Mark Sullivan, a Raleigh, North Carolina lawyer cites filing location as one of the most glaring differences between the traditional and military divorce. Laws governing civilian divorce are relatively identical across different states, unlike military divorce.
“It needs to be a place where you have actually lived, not just somewhere you claim for tax purposes,” Sullivan explained. He noted that the official home of record that a service member claims often has nothing to do with which state will have jurisdiction over a divorce.
The Right Time
Divorce attorneys from Colorado-based ShayneLaw.com add that years married, years served in the military, and years the two overlapped are primary considerations the government takes when determining the benefits a couple will share. They say that the current location of the serving spouse as well as the existence of any property within military states are just a few of the many hurdles divorcing military couples will face.
“Logistically it will be very difficult to get the papers served and there are legal protections for the deployed spouse that will allow for continuances and postponements until the service member is home,” says Mary Commander, a Norfolk, Virginia lawyer. She mentions the importance of choosing a filing date, not only for the processing duration, but also for its possible effect on the active service member. Commander says that a pending divorce can pose a dangerous distraction for soldiers on a mission. “I’ve seen it done, but only in the rarest of circumstances,” she said.
No matter one’s profession, divorce is never a marriage’s desired outcome. Military divorce will require a significantly greater amount of effort from divorce attorneys; they will take an even greater toll to the people protecting our country, as well as the person they had to leave behind.