Jurisdiction Isn’t a Given in Military Divorces

A soldier’s spouse makes sacrifices as well. Time apart puts a strain on many military marriages, which is why the divorce rate in military families continues to remain high. When the civilian spouse files for divorce, determining the jurisdiction in which to file may not be quite as easy as it is for non-military couples.

Can you file here in Kentucky?

The simple answer is maybe. Members of the Armed Forces may choose to remain a legal resident of one state while residing in another. The non-military spouse must become a lawful resident of the state in which he or she lives, with or without the military member. When it comes to divorce, this can complicate things. The spouse must file a divorce petition in his or her state of residence, the military member’s state of residence or the state in which the soldier is stationed.

The decision of where to file the divorce could affect certain aspects of the process. For instance, Kentucky is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court does not begin property division from the assumption that the parties own all assets 50/50. Instead, the aim is for a fair and equitable distribution of the marital property, which may not be equal.

In a military divorce, the largest point of contention is often what happens to the service member’s retirement. The law allows state courts to determine whether his or her retirement is a separate or marital asset subject to division. Even though federal law does include some rules regarding retirement, it does not provide state courts with a formula for division. Most of the rules relate to whether payments would come directly from the Department of Defense.

Military divorces may require experienced help

The rules relating to military divorces do not stop at the division of retirement. Other rules also require consideration, for instance, child custody. Even though additional considerations exist, military divorces also include all of the other nuances of civilian divorces. In order to balance the requirements and achieve the best possible outcome, it may be a good idea to rely on the experienced help of an attorney who routinely assists military families during this time.