Divorce looks different when you’re serving your country

You and your partner are gearing up for divorce, but the process can look a bit different for active duty service members. The approach may seem similar on the surface, but serving your country can lead to some unique challenges.

Over 20,000 members of the military divorce every year. If you’re set to enter that statistic, it can be good to remember a few key variances that exist between an active duty service member divorce and a civilian one.

Divorcing interests

There are a few factors to remember when looking at a military divorce:

  • Residence: You’ll typically need to file for divorce wherever you reside, but that can get tricky when you’re moving around a lot. Being stationed somewhere may be enough for you to file, but you might need to be in one location for a set period of time before you can move forward.
  • Custody: When it comes to custody and visitation, special circumstances often exist for service members. You may need a more flexible agreement to accommodate changing conditions like transfers, living on base and deployment.
  • Retirement: When you get a divorce, your spouse could have a right to a share of your retirement benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act can come into play, directing the state to treat the pay as marital property.

The nature of your job can add a few curveballs to your divorce, so you’ll likely want to make sure you stay aware of where the deviations are. Knowing the basics can be a start, but studying up on what makes the process unique for service members can be important to get things underway.