In order to file for divorce, the person filing for divorce must establish minimum residency requirements in that state. This residency requirement can range from three months to six years, depending on the laws of that state. So, generally, a person’s legal residence is the state they are currently living in and is not an issue for most people to establish. However, when it comes to military servicemen and women, the issue can be rather complicated as they may have a permanent residence in one state but then may be stationed in another.
According to the law, just because a military person is stationed somewhere, they do not automatically change their legal residence. As per the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, they can live in one state while claiming legal residence of another. This means St. Louis servicemembers have the option of filing in the state they have legal residence or the state they are stationed in.
Under normal circumstances only the state of legal residence would have the jurisdiction over the divorcing couple, however in a military divorce the situation is different as up to three states would have jurisdiction, allowing either party to file either in the states where the spouses have legal residence or where the servicemember is stationed. The minimum residency requirement is thus waived for servicemembers.
One of the benefits of this law is that the divorcing couple can review the laws of the states involved and can choose to file in a state where the law might be different from the other. However, if one of the parties is not legally residing there, this might increase travel and lodging costs. An experienced attorney can guide divorcing military couples through their divorce and explain how the laws may be different for them as compared to civilians.