Anytime a couple or family goes through a divorce, there are bound to be many complications and considerations to take into account. If either spouse is a military member, there will also be unique issues that are not present in other divorce proceedings because military divorces are governed by both state and federal laws. Due to this, it is important that you understand the many complex issues that arise during a military divorce so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family during the divorce process.
Military Members Cannot Begin a Divorce Proceeding While on Duty
To begin, active duty service members are protected from divorce proceedings in most cases. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), U.S. servicemen and servicewomen cannot be sued or begin a divorce proceeding while on active duty or for 60 days following active duty. This is not meant to delay the process, but instead to ensure that the service member is devoting his or her full time and energy to defending the country without the inevitable distraction of a civil case.
Where to File for Divorce
Next, military members have three options concerning which state to file for divorce in. They include:
- The state where the filing spouse legally resides;
- The state where the military member claims legal residency; or
- The state where the military member is stationed.
Many people believe that they automatically should file for divorce in the state where they reside. However, it is not uncommon for a military couple to be from one state, get married in a different state, reside in another different state, and then own property in another state. What may make this matter more complicated is that military families often move from one state to another quickly. In this case, the couple may not have been living in a state long enough to meet the state’s residency requirements for filing for divorce. Under Georgia law, you must be a resident of the state for six months before filing for a petition for divorce.
Another consideration to take into account when deciding where to file for divorce is how each state divides military pensions. Under federal law, the state in which the military member resides has the authority to divide a military pension during the divorce proceedings. Thus, it is important to research and understand how the different states involved in your case will divide the military pension as this is a significant and valuable asset of an estate.
If you or your spouse is an active member of the military and is considering divorce, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our experienced attorneys will help guide you through this difficult process. We will work to ensure that your needs as a military member are met and concerns specific to your situation are addressed.