Getting Divorced as a U.S. Military Service Member

Getting Divorced as a U.S. Military Service Member

The U.S. military protects our country on a daily basis. The fighters in our military are unparalleled to militaries anywhere else in the world. However, character and moral integrity may have nothing to do with your divorce. Sometimes, marriage just does not work out. Unfortunately, if you are a member of the U.S. military and you wish you get a divorce, the process you must go through is usually a bit more complicated than an ordinary civilian divorce. If you are a military service member and wish to file for divorce, here are some of the questions you may have:

What are the residency requirements for a military divorce?


In most civilian divorce cases, there are specific residency requirements that couples must meet. Some of the residency requirements are:

  • Having lived in New York in the year before the divorce and either got married in New York, lived in New York as a married couple, or the grounds for the divorce occurred in New York
  • Having lived in the state without interruption for a minimum of two years
  • Both spouses are residences on the day of filing

Since a good number of men and women serving in the military are not in the same place for long, they are generally granted special residency requirement options. A military member or spouse may file for divorce:

  • In the state where the military member claims legal residency
  • In the state where the military member is stationed
  • In the state where the couple has legal residence

Are servicemembers protected against default judgments?

Thankfully, they are. In a civilian divorce, if the defendant does not show up to court, he or she would usually be considered “in default” by the court. However, thanks to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act,  in a military divorce, if you are away on duty, the court may not make a default judgment against you. You may not be judged unless you are present at the court hearing or you have acquired counsel to represent you.

Can a military divorce affect my military pension?

As a result of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act of 1982, a military pension may be divided equitably in the event of a divorce. This is known as the “10/10 rule.” Essentially, in order for a military pension to be divvied up, you and your spouse must be married for 10 years during a 10-year period that you or your spouse were on active duty in the military. 

Contact our Long Island firm

The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., rated Nassau County’s “BEST” divorce lawyers and proudly serving clients in Nassau and Suffolk County for more than 22 years, is always available to assist and represent parties in divorce, separation and all other matrimonial and family law matters. Call today to schedule your complimentary case analysis: (516) 938-3330.

Read Our Latest Blog Posts

  •  Relocating With a Child After a Divorce in New York
  •  Should I File For Divorce Before My Spouse Does?
  •  Domestic Abuse in New York State