In many ways, military divorce differs very little from civilian divorce. There are still many different issues to sort through, such as child custody, child support, and property division. However, the beginning of the process, choosing where to file for divorce, is more complicated for couples involved with the military.

Jurisdiction for civilian couples is generally limited to courts in the state where they reside. Military couples, on the other hand, have three options to choose from:

  • The state where the spouse filing for divorce resides
  • The state the military member claims as their legal residence
  • The state where the military spouse is stationed

Wondering where to begin? Below are important factors to consider:

Legal residency factors

The legal residence of the military service member is especially important when it comes to dividing military pensions. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) gives the power to divide a military pension to the state where the service member claims legal residence. In some cases, this means a civilian spouse must be careful where they file. However, the military spouse can waive USFSPA protections and allow another court to divide pensions if they choose.

How assigned station impacts divorce

Many states have eliminated residency requirements for military cases, allowing for divorce filings wherever the military service member is stationed. If the military spouse is stationed overseas, the state where the other spouse resides or meets domicile requirements will likely be the best jurisdiction. However, keep in mind that the USFSPA also provides service members on active duty with the ability to stay divorce proceedings until they are back on American soil.