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How does a military divorce differ from a civilian divorce?

Individuals who serve in the U.S. military have unique jobs that may require a move across country or deployment to another country. In cases where a military servicemember is called to active duty, military jobs require an individual's full time, attention and focus. For the spouses, children and other family members left behind; life must go on despite a loved one's absence.

For some married military couples, the months and years spent apart take a toll on a marriage. For others, a marriage may have been on shaky ground prior to a husband's or wife's deployment. In cases where a non-military spouse takes action to file for divorce from a deployed military spouse, it's important to understand how a divorce may proceed.


The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal law that protects active duty servicemembers, as well as those who recently returned from active duty, from civil legal proceedings, including divorce. For a non-military spouse who wants to file for divorce, the protections afforded under the SCRA will delay divorce proceedings and can prove to be frustrating.

While there is no way around the SCRA, a non-military spouse would be wise to hire a divorce attorney who handles military divorces. An attorney who has successfully helped both military and non-military spouses through a divorce can assist in helping an individual determine which state is most advantageous to file for divorces. An attorney can also explain how provisions included in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act may financially benefit a non-military spouse.

Additionally, in cases where a couple has children, a divorce attorney can answer questions, provide advice and represent a non-military spouse in legal proceedings related to child custody, child support and alimony.

Source:, "Military Divorce," 2014

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