If you and/or your spouse are in the military, chances are you have moved around quite a bit. Unlike most other occupations, serving in the military often requires people to relocate in different state - and the world - based on where they are needed. And it's not just the military members moving; their families generally pack up and go along as well.
This can cause complications when service members get divorced. For civilians, there is typically only one option when it comes to the location to file for divorce: their home state. But those in the military without just one home state generally have options when deciding where to file.
This can be critical because state laws vary widely when it comes to certain aspects of divorce. Some states have more favorable laws than others.
Below are four examples of the ways state laws vary.
- Waiting periods: Some states require you to establish a period of separation prior to finalizing a divorce while others do not. In some states, this period is a year; in other states, it is a matter of months.
- Laws regarding child custody: Many states have laws presuming that equal custody is in the best interests of the child; other states do not. Depending on your wishes, you may or may not want the courts presuming equal parenting time is best.
- Property division laws: There are two ways property (including military benefits) can be divided: equitably and equally. In states with equitable distribution laws, marital property is divided according to what is deemed fair. In community property states, marital property is divided 50/50 between spouses.
- Alimony requirements and limitations: If you are seeking alimony, you may want to file in a state with fewer restrictions on alimony. For instance, you may prefer a state where permanent alimony is an option. If you are someone who cheated during marriage, you may want to avoid states where adultery prevents a person from receiving alimony.
As you can see, there are significant differences in how states treat various aspects of a divorce. Because of this, it can be crucial that you do some research before deciding where to file. If you have questions or concerns, or if you need help weighing the pros and cons from a legal perspective, you would be wise to consult an attorney experienced in military divorces.