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Jurisdiction Questions In Military Divorce


When you and your military servicemember spouse decide to divorce, there are several issues that may come up that civilians, by and large, avoid. One of these is that the issue of jurisdiction (the authority of a specific court to hear a case) – often, military divorces have to be filed in certain courts, within a certain time frame, to ensure that they can be decided appropriately. If you are in this type of situation, you need to enlist an experienced attorney to help make sure all the details are correct.

Where To File?

Generally, a divorce between two civilians will be filed in the area where one or both of them has permanent residency. However, a military servicemember’s legal residence may be the place where they are stationed, or in another place entirely. This can lead to a dispute about where the divorce should be filed. In some cases, the decision can be made with a simple discussion between spouses as to which jurisdiction has more favorable laws, though not always, and these decisions can become more complex if your spouse is on active duty or deployed.

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects active duty servicemembers from certain civil obligations, including divorce, eviction, and foreclosure. You may file your divorce, but you may have to wait for an answer until up to 30-60 days after the servicemember’s discharge from active duty or return from deployment- the SCRA is designed to keep servicemembers from being taken advantage of while on deployment, but it postpones actions that might be brought in good faith, as well if military service materially affects the service member’s ability to participate in the legal proceedings.

Benefit Issues

Jurisdiction is necessary for the awarding of military retirement benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) grants the authority to state courts to divide military retired pay only if the court is located in area of the couple’s residence, domicile (legal permanent residence), or if the couple consents to the jurisdiction of the court, though sometimes consent to jurisdiction can be challenged at a later date.

Be advised that in addition, even if you and your spouse decide to file your case in a jurisdiction other than the one where your permanent residence happens to be, you need to be aware of residency requirements. Florida, for example, requires that at least one of the parties to the divorce reside in the state for at least 6 months before filing but actual residency is not always required in military divorces, as provided for in the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.

Call A Hollywood Military Divorce Lawyer

Divorcing is always a time-consuming and complicated process, but if you or your spouse is a member of the military, it can become even more so. An experienced Hollywood military divorce lawyer can be a great help, and Hollywood military divorce attorney Steven A. Mason has the knowledge and the dedication to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. is ready and willing to try and assist you with your case. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation.


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