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Military Divorce

Divorce can be a confusing and stressful time for military couples. However, gaining a general understanding of how this process works can greatly reduce the time, expense, and emotional strain. While you will largely follow the same process and procedures as a civilian couple when filing for divorce, there are unique legal issues which may apply. 

Generally, the military views divorce as a private civil matter to be addressed by a civilian court. Commanders rarely get involved in domestic situations except in limited cases. For military divorce or legal separation situations that require representation in civil court or involve contested issues such as child custody, spousal/child support or division of assets like retirement pay, it is recommended that you consult with a civilian attorney who is knowledgeable of the divorce laws of your particular state and has extensive experience with military-related family law.

While service members and their spouses can file for divorce overseas, the courts of the United States may or may not recognize the ruling. Generally, if either you or your spouse is living in the jurisdiction that grants the divorce, and there is proper service and notice, then that court (foreign or domestic) will have the power to grant the divorce  and the U.S. courts will recognize it. You can avoid this potential issue by filing for divorce in a state, rather than through a foreign country. You may wish to consult your military legal assistance attorney or your civilian lawyer in such situations.