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Special considerations for pursuing a military divorce

Before a Massachusetts resident begins the difficult process of making personal and financial decisions about how to manage a divorce, he or she must first file the appropriate paperwork with the appropriate court in order to initiate the legal proceedings. Matters such as jurisdiction, residency, and others can influence when and where a person may file for divorce, and for members of the military and their spouses, determining these matters can be complex. This post will provide a general overview of special considerations a service member or a military spouse may make before starting a divorce, but readers are cautioned to use this post as information only, and not legal advice.

As military divorces fall under both state and federal jurisdiction, service members and their spouses have some flexibility when it comes to deciding where to file their pleadings. They may file for divorce in the state where the service member is stationed, or they may file in the state where the filing spouse has residency. If the filing spouse is not the service member then that person may also file for divorce in the place where the service member holds residency.

Where a party chooses to file for divorce can have a big impact on how certain aspects of the divorce unfolds, such as how any property will be treated, and if it will be equitably divided or divided by the laws of community property. Speaking with a divorce attorney about these considerations can help individuals allay their concerns and make good choices about their divorces.

It is important for service members to know that although divorces often follow dictated schedules, they may be granted extensions of time for responding to their spouses’ divorce pleadings if the service members are on active duty. Service members who are on, or who may be required to serve on, active duty can benefit from working with divorce attorneys who understand the complexities of military divorces and can support their clients as they serve their country in the armed forces.