members of the military

How Do Military Divorces Work?

While all divorces are stressful and emotional, some pose more unique challenges than others. For example, there are extraordinary circumstances for those who are members of the military that make it more challenging to navigate this process. If you or your spouse are enlisted, and you’re considering divorce, it’s essential to understand how to proceed. Luckily, New Jersey divorce attorneys can help you navigate this process. Keep reading to learn more about how military divorces differ from civilian separations.

What Are the Requirements for Military Divorces?

It’s important to understand that divorce for those in the military operates differently. Generally, when someone files for divorce, the other spouse must respond in a certain period of time. Failure to do so can result in a default judgment. However, not all military members are able to respond to and attend court dates. As a result, the Federal Service Members Relief Act helps prevent default judgment for those who are unable to respond. However, a non-military spouse may be able to proceed without the presence of their spouse, if their spouse grants written consent to the divorce.

Similarly, you must understand where you can file for divorce. Generally, most states require one spouse to reside in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. As many military families are often restationed and move frequently, this may be confusing. However, the law recognizes this by offering more flexibility for servicemembers. As such, you are likely eligible to file in the following places:

  • In the last state where you lived for at least six months
  • In the state where you are stationed
  • In the state where you file taxes

Are There Any Other Considerations I Should Make?

For members of the armed forces, it’s also important to consider how marital assets will be divided. You must adhere to the distribution laws of the state you file in. If this is New Jersey, your property is subject to equitable distribution. This means that the courts will split the assets according to each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, both financially and functionally. As such, parents who stop working or put their careers on hold to raise children are entitled to a portion of the property since they also contributed to the union.

You’ll also need to consider how divorce will impact military pensions. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act is a law that dictates how military retirement money is handled during a divorce. As such, if you and your spouse divorce, you are likely entitled to up to 50% of their pension. However, this will depend on how long they were in the service and what the rank of your spouse was. If you were married for at least ten years and your spouse was in the service for ten years, you will be paid directly through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Divorce can be complex. As such, Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn can help you navigate these issues. If you’ve decided that divorce is right for your circumstances, you’ll want to contact our dedicated legal team.

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