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How are military divorces different from regular ones?

Pursuing a career in the military often means accepting a different lifestyle than what civilians enjoy. Military servicemembers sacrifice personal freedom to help defend the freedom of others. They put themselves in a position where there can be a lot of strain on their relationship with their spouses. They also put their physical and mental health at risk in their endeavors to serve the nation.

Sometimes, the separation or stress created by military service proves to be too much for a couple. Either spouse might choose to file for divorce. Although military divorces do take place in state civil courts, they are somewhat different than civilian divorces.

What makes a military divorce different?

There are pay and benefit repercussions

The benefits that a servicemember and their immediate family members enjoy can be a challenge for people to address during a divorce. Spouses typically lose the right to benefits ranging from housing to Tricare health care coverage. Additionally, the servicemember could see a change in their pay because of their changing family circumstances.

There may be additional steps involved

Sometimes, military divorces require more effort or more patience. Someone who has just relocated to a new state may not yet qualify to file for divorce at the new location and will have to wait until they meet jurisdiction requirements to file for divorce. If the idea of divorce arises during someone’s deployment, a divorce filing will likely not be possible until they return. Beyond that, there may be additional paperwork required of service members. They will usually need to file an updated family care plan with the military regarding the care of their children if they share any dependent family members with their spouse.

There can be military penalties

Divorce sometimes comes with accusations of personal misconduct. Some of those allegations could have an impact on an individual’s military career. For example, claims of spousal abuse that lead to a conviction might leave someone ineligible to have a firearm. That would almost certainly affect their military career. Proven claims of infidelity could also lead to military discipline.

Military servicemembers and their spouses may have a harder time getting proper legal representation as well. The average lawyer is only familiar with civilian divorces may not understand the complexities of military divorce. Getting the right support can make a big difference for military servicemembers and their spouses who are contemplating divorce, given the unique challenges involved in the process.