On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Military Divorce on Saturday, January 23, 2016.
There are many things that make a military divorce vastly more complex than a civilian divorce, but there is perhaps no greater issue to be tackled than state laws. As with many other legal matters, each state has different laws for different issues, and so a legal action in one state may be completely different from the same legal action in another state. Why is this a particular issue with military divorce? Because the state is sometimes a variable.
When it comes to most legal issues, a person clearly has a state of residence; it is the state in which the person owns property, has a vehicle registered, votes or takes any other legal action. For members of the military, it is entirely possible that you own property in Texas, and perhaps your spouse and family even live in Texas, but that you are stationed here in Missouri. As a result, you probably have your vehicle registered in Missouri, you may own additional property in Missouri and you may even be registered to vote here.
Because of this variance in state, the state in which a divorce is filed becomes extremely significant, because even for many federal laws, state laws still matter. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, for example, provides for states to have different interpretations of military retirement pay. Depending on the state, the pay could be sole property or community property.
In short, the state in which you file a divorce has a significant effect on your military divorce, but depending on your circumstances, your state of residence may not be set in stone. If you are going through a military divorce, consider meeting with an attorney who can shed some light on the complexities you will likely face.