Getting divorced creates a myriad of obstacles, but one of the biggest issues for military families is the question of “what state am I supposed to get divorced in?” In the State of Florida, the court requires that a party live in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. This is required for anyone seeking a divorce in Florida, but becomes of special importance for military families due to relocations for active duty.
Additionally, federal law requires that in order for a spouse to seek enforceable orders relating to a military retirement, there are particular rules that must followed for a court to be able to assume jurisdiction over your family law matter. In order for a court to make decisions about your military retirement plan, the state that you file in must be:
a) A state where the military spouse is domiciled;
b) Were the military spouse is a resident; orc) An agreed to state by you and your spouse.
So, what is your “domicile?” For service members, a domicile, your “permanent home,” is the place of your legal residence. Even if you are not living there, you can maintain a “domicile” if you have made your home there and intend to return there. Some key indicators as to where you are domiciled may be: where you are a registered voter, what address you use on your federal taxes, where you own a home or register your car, and where your family (spouse and children) live.
At times, spouses may even have different states where they are domiciled, but in this case, where the servicemember spouse’s state of legal residence exists, is the state where you need to file for divorce. While some states will permit a service member to file divorce when a military spouse is temporarily stationed there, it is best to go with the state that has the most legal contact. Navigating a Florida divorce is never easy, and at Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A., we understand how these issues of where to even start the process can seem overwhelming. Working with an experienced family law attorney Jennifer Erlinger, and the team at Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., will ensure that your divorce can go smoothly and in a positive direction for your family.
Further, states have residency requirements for anyone wanting to get divorced in their state. In Florida, residency must be established for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. So, visitors to the Sunshine State can’t get a divorce while on a long vacation here.
If you and your spouse agree to a state or location for your divorce, this is usually a great way to start working on a collaborative process for your family during the divorce. Working with an attorney who can draft the appropriate documents for your uncontested divorce will make sure that you are in compliance with state law.
If you or your spouse is stationed overseas, you can file in the United States. While a foreign divorce seem appealing or convenient during your international deployment, the military will not honor a pension division order from a foreign country, and getting a state to recognize your international divorce when it comes to U.S. property or children may prove difficult. If you are stationed overseas, it is wise to contact a family law attorney in the state that you have a legal residence in order to make sure that you are conforming to the law.