If you are considering getting a divorce and are a U.S. military servicemember, it is important you understand the process is different from the civilian divorce process. If you are away on duty, for example, you may not be able to attend key court dates. If you are considering getting a military divorce, then here are some of the questions you may have.
What are the requirements to get a military divorce?
As is the case in civilian divorces, a military divorce must fulfill a residency requirement. Thankfully, the judicial system does understand that servicemembers may not be able to establish residences easily, as they are constantly moving and are often away for long periods of time. Currently, a military member or spouse of one may file a divorce:
- In the state where the couple has legal residence
- In the state where the military member is stationed
- In the state where the military member claims legal residence
How are divorce papers served to a servicemember?
If you are in a situation where you as a spouse need to serve papers to a servicemember, it may get a bit more complicated. Most military bases have a designated official who acts as a law enforcement officer and handles legal matters for the base. If the servicemember being served papers does not accept the serve, he or she may request a “stay” on the divorce, which will prolong the process. He or she will not be able to avoid the divorce altogether, but he may put the divorce on hold while duty stops him or her from participating.
Are military members protected against default judgment?
In civilian divorces, if the other party does not act or answer the Complaint for Divorce, the case may proceed without them, ending in a default judgment. This is generally a binding verdict in favor of one party based on the neglect of the other. However, since active servicemembers are serving their country and are unable to address the divorce case, there may be no judgment on the divorce or family law matter without their presence or the presence of legal representation. In child custody cases, the law provides flexibility for the servicemember who has been absent for 30 days or more because of deployment or recovery of a service-related injury or illness.
How is my military pension affected by a divorce?
The New Jersey courts can treat military pension as marital property and distribute it equitably with the rest of the assets. Additionally, the “10/10 rule” states that if you were married for at least 10 years and your military spouse served for at least 10 years, then you are eligible for a portion of the divided military pay, sent to your directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
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