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What makes a military divorce different?

Divorcing couples in New Mexico often face serious issues that could complicate or prolong the dissolution process. For those in the military, a divorce could be especially difficult. In a military divorce there are several factors involved in the process. Furthermore, the fact that service members might not be in the same state or even country of their spouse could further complicate the divorce process.

Both state and federal laws govern a military divorce. While states law will often determine the details of some issues such as alimony and child support, federal laws will often control what court the divorcing couple will attend and how any military benefits and pensions will be divided.

The Service members Civil Relief Act or SCRA states that divorce proceedings cannot be initiated while a military member is on active duty. Furthermore, divorce papers cannot be filed against them for 60 days following active duty. This was passed in order to ensure that military members are able to focus on their job and devote both their time and energy to serving and defending the nation.

In most divorce cases, the court where the couple or one spouse continues to reside has jurisdiction over the case. In military divorces, a spouse is able to file in the state where they reside or where the military member claims legal residency, even if they are stationed elsewhere. The state where they file for divorce will then determine how the divorce will be finalized. The laws of the state will control property division, child custody and other divorce issues.

Because there are timing and location delays, those going through a military divorce should understand the steps involved in a military dissolution. This could help them avoid additional disputes and setbacks. Furthermore, it could help them address any concerns they have regarding the jurisdiction of the divorce proceeding or any other divorce legal issues.

Source: "Military Divorce," accessed on Sept. 7, 2014

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