Military divorce - where one or both spouses is in the military- is different than civilian divorces for many reasons including:
Status: If stationed overseas, if deployed on active duty, if been discharged
Retirement: specific laws govern retirement pay allocation
Continued benefits: military benefits continuation for non-military spouse
In terms of the “where to file divorce when on active duty” question, experts recommend that each party consider where they vote, pay state taxes, have bank accounts and driver’s licenses, own property, etc. and file there since it will be easiest logistically. One of the parties to the divorce must call the court’s state “home” for legal residence purposes (such as paying state taxes and voting there) for the divorce to be valid.
Note that some states have looser residency requirements for active duty service personnel who want to file for divorce in the state in which they are stationed. Today, every state offers no-fault divorces, but each state has different rules for waiting periods, custodial arrangements, and other pertinent details, so location is an important consideration.
Military spouses can file in the US even If one or both service members is stationed overseas. Filing for a military divorce in the US (vs overseas) is important because the military won’t honor a pension division order from a foreign country, and the divorce judgment itself may not hold up in the US.
The military continues to provide for dependents of servicemembers who are dishonorably discharged. There are varying levels and duration of compensation depending on the situation. You can find more information here.
The most useful document in a military divorces is the service member’s Leave and Earnings Statement. This will show all pay and entitlements, including how much leave he has accrued, what state he claims as domicile for tax purposes; this may help establish divorce jurisdiction, and how many dependents he claims for income tax purposes.
In terms of military retirement pay, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) allows states to award up to 50 percent of the military member's retired pay, although this does not mean that 50 percent is the maximum award, nor that 50 percent is always awarded.
The 20/20/20 Rule determines whether the non-military spouse is eligible for full benefits including continued commissary or medical benefits. The 20/20/20 Rule depends on the length of time you were married, the length of time the spouse was in the military and the number of years your marriage existed during his or her military service.
Uncontested vs. Contested Military Divorces: The same rules apply to military families going through a divorce as civilian ones in terms of contested or uncontested divorces. Contested essentially means that the court system and a judge is used to decide on the outcome of the divorce. In a non-contested military divorce, the couple needs to have a separation agreement. including division of assets and an agreement for child custody and child support if children are involved. These documents are then presented to the court before the divorce is granted.
Military Divorce Postponement & the Civil Relief Act: This act allows service members who can show that their military service prevents them from asserting or protecting a legal right to submit written communication to a military court for postponement.
Military Divorce & Children’s Health Insurance with TRICARE: After the divorce is reported in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, spouses lose their eligibility to continue receiving health care benefits through TRICARE. Biological and adopted children of the service member remain eligible for TRICARE up to age 21 (or age 23 if enrolled in college) as long as the child remains a dependent child of the service member.
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