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What is a Military Divorce?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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A military divorce is a divorce in which at least one of the spouses is in the military. This term can be used to describe a divorce in which one or both parties are on active duty or in a reserve unit. It is also used to describe divorces involving retired service members. Typically, this term is simply used to point out that a service member is involved. In most countries, it is used as a description only rather than as a legal term or designation.

For the most part, a military divorce proceeds in much the same manner as one involving only civilians. Military divorces are usually processed in a civil court of law, for example. In most cases, military authorities do not interfere with or attempt to influence a civil court's decisions in divorce matters. In some places, however, divorcing military couples are subject to two types of laws, regional and national. For example, they may be subject to regional laws for matters such as child support and national laws for issues concerning the serviceman’s pension.

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Though the military doesn’t usually interfere with divorce decisions, it may require special adjustments for its servicemen. For example, residency requirements may be relaxed to allow a serviceman to file for divorce where he is stationed rather than where his spouse lives or where his permanent residence is located. Additionally, it may be more difficult to deliver legal documents to a person who is in the military. If he is serving oversees, he may not be required, or even able, to accept the service of legal documents.

Each country may have different rules regarding the payment of alimony, child support, and pension benefits in a military divorce case. Most, however, have protections in place to provide for the rights of a spouse who is divorcing a military serviceman. These protections also help ensure that children of the marriage will be cared for after the divorce. In some countries, the amount of time the couple was married may play a role in alimony orders and the sharing of the military pension. In some cases, however, a person may be entitled to a portion of his spouse's military pension after even a short marriage.

In most places, a military divorce will not hurt a serviceman's rank or status. Many armed forces branches do encourage servicemen to work through marital problems, however. In fact, many offer programs and resources designed to help military couples work through common marital difficulties.

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