Military Divorce And Deployment: Three Things You Should Know

When it comes to military divorce, there are a lot of myths floating around. This is especially true when it comes to military divorce and deployment. While the best source of information regarding military divorce rules and regulations is your own personal attorney, the following information is applicable to every military couple and will help dispel the three biggest myths when it comes to military divorce.

Where Can I File?

A divorce involving a couple in which one or both spouse is serving in the military is just like a divorce between two civilian individuals in this regard. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to file for divorce in the same place where you were married. You should file for divorce in the place where you are currently living. However, you should familiarize yourself with residency requirements. If you just moved to your current location, you may not be able to file for divorce right away. Some states require you to be a resident of your current county for 60 days to a year before you can file for divorce. 

Can I File While My Spouse Is Deployed?

The short answer to this question is yes. Your spouse can also file for divorce while he or she is deployed. However, a servicemember is protected from legal actions while deployed, thanks to the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This means that while you are both allowed to file for divorce while your spouse is deployed, the divorce cannot be finalized and no hearings can be conducted until your spouse returns home from deployment. You should use the remaining time that your spouse is deployed to get your things in order, gather documents and prepare a strategy to exit your marriage gracefully and to work with your attorney to make sure everything is prepared to continue the divorce process once your spouse returns from deployment. 

Can the JAG Office Represent Me?

This is one of the most common myths regarding military divorces. The JAG Office's mission is to represent the unit or command, not the members or dependents. The JAG Office cannot represent either spouse in a divorce. You must retain your own attorney from off-post or off-base at your own cost. You may want to consider an attorney like Karen Robins Carnegie PLC. The JAG Office can give you very limited legal information and refer you to a competent local civilian divorce attorney. The JAG Office cannot draft petitions for you, answer petitions, appear with you in court or do any of the other tasks involved with representing you. The military will also not pay for your attorney fees or other costs relating to your divorce; this is your responsibility.