While serving on our nation’s armed forces is a noble thing to do, frequent moves and long deployments can take a toll on a marriage. Sometimes the stress is simply too much, and military spouses will decide to divorce. It is important for service members in Lakeland, Florida, to understand how a military divorce differs from a civilian divorce, so they can protect their rights.

In general divorce is governed by state law. However, a military divorce is governed in part by federal law and in part by state law. For instance, which court the divorce will take place in and how military pensions are treated during the property division process fall under federal law. However, how and whether spousal support will be awarded falls under state law. The state laws that will be applicable to a military divorce are those in the state where the service member or his or her spouse files for divorce.

Also, when it comes to residency requirements for military divorce, oftentimes the parties can file for divorce in the state they are stationed in, even if they do not hold legal residency in that state. So, a military divorce can be filed in the state where the service member is stationed, the state the service member is a legal resident of or the state that the service member’s spouse is a resident of. However, the specifics of these general laws vary between states, so it is important to understand how your state treats military divorce.

This is only a brief overview of some differences between a military divorce and a civilian divorce. Other differences involve a stay of legal actions while the service member is on active duty, how military pensions and retirement benefits are divided and whether the spouse of a service member is entitled to medical, commissary and exchange privileges. There are also differences regarding spousal support and child support. Therefore, those going through a military divorce will want to make sure they understand the laws that will apply to them, so they can make informed decisions.