Divorce is hard enough for most people. However, when one – or both – of the parties serve in the military, the process may feel more like a 20-mile hike with full pack than a court proceeding. While military divorces do require a few extra steps, it’s usually possible to get over any obstacles that arise.
Residency Requirements and Military Divorces
In a California divorce, at least one party must meet the following conditions regarding residency:
- Must have lived in California for the last six months, AND
- Must have lived in the county where you plan to file for at least the past three months.
A military divorce can be filed in California if:
- The service member’s legal residence is California; or
- The spouse’s legal residence is California; or
- The military member is stationed in California.
As with any divorce, the person who wants the divorce can file for legal separation if he or she does not meet the residency requirements.
Basic Issues in a Military Divorces
Branches of the military handle certain issues differently for servicemembers than civilians. For example, a divorced spouse may be able to use base housing in some circumstances. Benefits, including health care, may still be offered to some divorced spouses. Other benefits like commissary and exchange privileges may be appropriate depending on the length of the marriage and other factors.
Divorce is a civil matter handled by civil courts. However, active duty service members may be able to stop or delay an action taken in a divorce.
A Combination of State, Federal, and Military Law
California divorce laws govern much of the divorce proceeding. However, other laws relate to military divorces:
- Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This law protects active-duty military personnel and their families from certain legal actions. For example, permanent custody orders may not be entered against service members who are deployed or otherwise unavailable because of military service.
- Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act. This law relates to the division of military retired pay. Child support and spousal support are also addressed.
All Divorces Are Not Created Equal
To get through your military divorce, find an attorney with a deep understanding of California divorce law and military divorce procedures.
To discuss how to handle military divorce issues, please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.