Divorce is a tough process to go through no matter what a person’s occupation. For members of the armed forces, it is necessary to consider some rules that do not apply in civilian divorces.
Residency requirements are among the first legal issues that will come up in a divorce. In Missouri, one of the parties must have been a resident of the state for 90 days immediately before the divorce action is filed. If one of the parties is in the armed forces, the requirement is met if that party has been stationed in Missouri for the 90 days prior to filing the action — regardless of whether or not Missouri is the service member’s permanent home.
When a member of the armed forces is served with divorce papers, that person is protected by the Service Members Civil Relief Act. This is a federal law that protects service members from lawsuits, including divorce proceedings, while they are on active duty and for up to 60 days thereafter.
In any divorce action property division is often a major issue. State law will generally govern the division of military retirement benefits. If the couple was married for at least 10 years and those 10 years coincided with 10 years of military service, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will pay the ex-spouse’s share of the benefits directly to the ex-spouse.
Understanding the unique characteristics of military divorce is important for any service member or spouse of a service member who is facing the end of a marriage. It may be a good idea to consult an attorney who is experienced in handling divorce proceedings for military personnel and their spouses.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Military Divorce,” accessed Nov. 6, 2016