Skip to Main Content

Three Things to Know About Military Divorce

Any divorce case has the potential to become complex but this is particularly true with military divorces. Military divorces must resolve all of the same terms as any other. Child custody, property division, and spousal support are just a few of these. These terms become much more complicated during a military divorce. For example, if you are in the military and you are deployed, that can complicate child custody and visitation matters. 

In addition to these complex matters, military divorces also involve their own issues that are as unique as they are challenging. If you or your spouse is in the military and you are getting a divorce, below are three things you need to know.

Jurisdiction and Military Divorce

In most divorce cases, determining which state has jurisdiction over the case is fairly easy. This is because the two people involved usually live together in the same state. In military divorces though, the matter is not so simple. Jurisdiction becomes a more complicated matter due to the very nature of military life. The law allows a person to file for divorce in the state in which they reside. 

Under Ohio law, a person must reside in the state for at least six months immediately before they file. This does not always apply to members of the military. Under federal law, military pensions can be divided into the state of residence for the service member.

Child Custody

People often mistakenly assume that during a military divorce, the spouse who is not in the military will automatically receive the main share of child custody. This is because members of the military could be deployed at any time. Fortunately, being in the military does not automatically mean that a person will lose their child custody case.

Still, deployment is a possibility that must be addressed during a military divorce. As in any other type of divorce case, the two spouses involved can reach an agreement about what will happen if one or both of them are deployed. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement, the matter will have to go to court. Typically, a person who serves in the military will designate a trusted adult to take on child custody and visitation responsibilities while they are away.

The Division of Military Pensions

Dividing military pensions is one of the most complicated aspects of a military divorce. Under the law, divorced spouses are entitled to a portion of their spouse’s military pension if they were married for at least ten years. The service member must have also been in the military for at least ten years, and those timelines must have overlapped. However, even when a person was not married for the required ten years, they may still be entitled to a portion of the pension.

Tips for Surviving a Military Divorce

Getting a divorce is never simple, but when one partner is in the military, the situation can get complicated quickly. Over the years, the federal government has implemented several measures designed to protect service members and longtime spouses. These additional protections can increase the amount of time needed to finalize the divorce, creating additional stress for both parties. Staying informed and being proactive throughout the divorce can make the process easier to handle, but even the most prepared adult can find him or herself overwhelmed. Fortunately, surviving a military divorce is possible if you keep a few tips in mind.

Take Advantage of Residency Exceptions

The first step in most divorce filings is proving that you or your spouse are a resident of the state in which you are filing. A person who is in the military or married to a service member may end up in a situation in which he or she is not yet a legal resident of the state they are living in at the time divorce becomes a necessity.

This prompts many to initiate a divorce in what they believe to be their state of residency, leading to additional travel expenses and the added burden of worrying about being able to attend last-minute court hearings. Taking advantage of state laws that allow a military member or their spouse to file for divorce in the state in which they are stationed, even if traditional residency requirements are not met, can simplify your divorce while saving both parties money.

Utilize the Civil Relief Act

Military divorce rates have slowly started to decline, but the chances of a divorce being initiated during a deployment remain high. The marriage challenges associated with deployment include long-term separation, anxiety, depression, and resentment all combining to increase the likelihood of one or both parties wanting a divorce.

A spouse who has remained behind may attempt to file for a divorce while the service member is still deployed, hoping to get a favorable settlement without engaging in a long battle with his or her spouse. If your spouse suddenly files for divorce while you are on deployment, utilizing the Service Members Civil Relief Act allows you to postpone all court proceedings until you are able to attend.

The act protects you from having an unfavorable judgment entered against you if you are unable to attend court because of duty.

Remember Moving Expenses

A person who is focused on having his or her marriage legally dissolved often forgets to plan for the future immediately following a successful divorce. One thing you do not want to overlook is having your moving expenses covered by the military or included in your divorce negotiations.  

If you or your spouse are stationed in Hawaii and plan to return to Ohio after the divorce is finalized, the last thing you want to worry about is financing your move. The military may pay for moving expenses, especially if you are stationed overseas, or the couple can include reasonable moving costs in the divorce settlement.

Our Columbus Military Divorce Lawyers Can Help with Your Case

Divorce is never easy, but it becomes much more complicated when one party is in the military. Even with careful planning and knowledge of tips that can make your divorce more manageable, it is easy to forget major details that can ultimately cost you emotionally or financially. Turning to a military divorce attorney for help is the best way to protect yourself and ensure your divorce is handled properly.  

The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office realize how difficult it is to get divorced while you are in the military or married to a service member. Our staff is ready to provide you with the legal advice you need. Contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office today so that we can discuss your case.

Lawrence Law Office

Contact Us



496 S 3rd St Columbus, OH 43215

get directions

call us

P: (614) 228-3664 / F: (614) 228-3798