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Where should a military member file for divorce?

Your military service likely means you have been transferred from post to post, and you might not have any real roots where you're stationed. California, for example, might just be your temporary home or a stop on your way to another assignment, and you've left your family behind in another state so your spouse can keep their job and your kids can stay in the same school.

That lifestyle undoubtedly is tough on a relationship, and you and your spouse just might decide that divorce is the best course for your family. But just where do you file for divorce?

Unlike a traditional divorce, both state and federal laws may apply to a military divorce. Federal law, for instance, likely will affect how your military pension winds up divided. Also, in a civilian divorce, you generally must divorce in the state where you live. In a military divorce, your divorce might occur elsewhere.

In general, a military couple has three choices of where to file for divorce: the state where the spouse doing the filing lives, the state of legal residency for the military member or the state where the service member is stationed.

The state of filing will take jurisdiction so that state's rules will determine vital things such as child custody, child support or property division.

As a note, the proceedings can be delayed while you are on active duty or within 90 days of your release from active duty. Your military role might not allow you to attend hearings, and the courts recognize that

Filing is just the first step in your divorce. As it proceeds, you will face things such as the 10/10 rule, which takes effect if you have been married at least 10 years and were in the military for 10 years during your marriage. There also is a similar 20/20 rule. An attorney who has experience in military divorce will be able to guide you along the road.

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