What is a Military Divorce Lawyer?

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  • Written By: L. Dunne
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2016
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Military divorce is a very complicated legal matter which requires the knowledge and assistance of a military divorce lawyer. A military divorce is the dissolution of a marriage when one or both parties to a marriage are in the armed forces, and while the divorce still follows the same procedural rules as a civilian divorce, there are intricacies involved with military benefits, retirement, service of papers and living arrangements that must be dealt with separately. A military divorce lawyer must be competent in all these areas, and not all other divorce lawyers understand the laws surrounding military divorce.

There are entire law firms that handle military divorce litigation. There are no military divorce courts or military divorce judges since the armed forces use the same legal system that all other citizens of the United States use. Military divorces do have one rule that is different than from those used in civilian divorce proceedings. In most jurisdictions across the United States, service must be made within an allotted amount of time and in person. In a military divorce, there are laws which protect the armed forces member if there is an unusual delay in proceedings due to inability to attend proceedings or be served because of active duty.


A military divorce lawyer must know the particulars of all applicable state and federal laws that might apply to a divorce. Although most divorces are governed by state laws, this is not entirely true when dealing with military divorce. There are some federal laws which trump the state laws regarding military benefits, pensions, retirement, custody and alimony or child support. In rare cases, some portions of the divorce hearing may need to be heard by a federal judge.

Additional issues arise if one or both of the members are stationed overseas.

A military divorce lawyer is not the same as a military attorney. The military divorce lawyer is not necessarily a member of the armed forces, although military attorneys can sometimes offer legal advice in matters concerning military divorce. Military divorce lawyers can take on other types of cases, but often have a primary focus on military family matters or divorce.


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