Divorce is challenging in any situation, but it can be particularly difficult for those serving in the military. The very nature of military service puts quite a bit of pressure on a marital relationship, as spouses may need to keep secrets from one another or separate for months on end because of someone’s deployment.
When it comes to military divorces, myths abound. A surprising number of people have heard very inaccurate information about what occurs when a military servicemember divorces. For example, people think that military law will decide what happens to the couple in divorce court. However, that is simply not true.
State law determines what happens in your divorce
The military does not oversee divorce proceedings. Military courts largely focus on the enforcement of codes of conduct and disciplinary actions. To address a family law matter like a divorce petition, you will need to go to state family court.
The laws in the state where you are a resident when you file for divorce will determine what happens with both your property and your custody matters. Military rules have no say in how much parenting time either of you receives, the way that you divide your property or if spousal support is necessary.
All of those crucial decisions depend on state law rather than military rules. In Washington, you can expect a judge to consider your household situation when dividing your assets and to make custody decisions that are in the best interests of your children.
What military rules apply to divorces?
There are numerous military rules that you will have to follow in your divorce. For example, you will have to notify the chain of command and update certain family documents to reflect your new situation. There are other rules that could impact your divorce as well.
The 10/10 rule might allow for a faster and easier distribution of your military pension to your ex if you have remained married for at least 10 years and completed 10 years of service during the marriage. There are even unique rules about adultery that could lead to consequences for the service member if they are unfaithful, especially if they misbehave while on duty.
Learning about what to expect in a military divorce will help you feel comfortable moving forward with the end of your marriage.