How do you choose the right state for a military divorce?

Picture this: you’re on a roller coaster, hurtling through twists and turns, not knowing which direction you’re headed. Your heart pounds, your stomach churns, and you desperately wish for an exit strategy. No, I’m not talking about an amusement park ride—I’m talking about the wild journey called divorce. And if you’re a military couple facing this daunting process, the ride becomes even more exhilarating, in the most stressful way possible.

But fear not, my friend! I’m here to guide you through this roller coaster of military divorces and reveal the ultimate secret to making it a bit less dizzying. So, without further ado, let’s uncover the best state for you to get a divorce.

Short Answer: The best state for your military divorce depends on a variety of factors, including residency requirements, legal considerations, and the unique challenges faced by military families. But fear not, as we delve into the depths of this article, you’ll discover all the secrets and strategies to help you navigate the maze and find the best state to untangle your marital ties.

Reasons to Keep Reading:

  1. Legal Considerations for Military Divorces: We’ll delve into the fascinating world of military divorce laws and regulations, uncovering how they can impact your case and the division of assets. Get ready for an eye-opening journey through the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act!
  2. Child Custody and Visitation in Military Divorces: As a military couple, the challenge of deployments and relocations adds a unique layer to child custody battles. We’ll explore the intricate web of military parenting plans and the factors courts consider when determining what’s best for your little ones.
  3. Division of Military Benefits and Pensions: Don’t get tangled up in the intricacies of dividing military retirement benefits! We’ll guide you through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and the infamous 10/10 rule, ensuring you understand how courts determine the division of these crucial assets.
  4. Residency Requirements for Military Divorces: Whether you’re stationed in Texas or Timbuktu, knowing the residency requirements for filing a military divorce is essential. We’ll unravel the options available to you, from the state of domicile to the state where you’re stationed, giving you the knowledge to make an informed choice.
  5. Unique Challenges in Military Divorces: Military life is a roller coaster in itself, and divorce adds an extra loop-de-loop. From long-distance communication to frequent relocations, we’ll explore the specific challenges faced by military families and equip you with resources and support to conquer them.

So buckle up, dear reader, as we embark on this exhilarating expedition to find the best state for your military divorce. With our insights, you’ll gain the confidence and knowledge to navigate the twists and turns of this complex process. Let’s dive in and discover the light at the end of the tunnel!

Decoding the Military Divorce Maze: Finding the Best State for Your Split

Preparing for a divorce can be one of the most useful yet tedious bits of preparation you do in your entire life. Nobody would argue that preparing for your divorce isn’t the only smart thing for you to do. However, very few people want to think more about divorce, and they have to. I believe it is human nature to avoid unpleasant subjects and focus on more appealing issues and carry less baggage with them. I don’t think there is any subject with more luggage than that of a divorce.

With That being said, different people going through divorce have to think about the case differently. For example, suppose you are a business owner who was going through a divorce. In that case, you need to focus on issues related to your business and how the assets and debts associated with your company may impact your divorce. On the other hand, if you are a parent who has a simple financial life, then your focus of the divorce will almost entirely be on your children and how the rights, duty, and time associated with your children will be divided between you and your spouse.

In this case, we will discuss military divorces and what makes an armydivorce unique from a civilian divorce. The bottom line is that some aspects of a military divorce can be highly different from a civilian divorce. No specific requirements for a civilian divorce versus an army divorce make them different under Texas law. However, because if you’re in the military, you may not be eligible for divorce in Texas and may need to file elsewhere, you must understand the implications of the importance of choosing the right state to file for your divorce.

Jurisdiction In divorce and what it means for your case

No matter in what state it is located, a family court needs to have jurisdiction over your divorce. You cannot simply pick a court or location that seems appealing to you and then go with that court without considering whether or not that court in that judge will have jurisdiction over your case. Before we go any further, I think we need to look at what jurisdiction is and how a Texas court can gain jurisdiction over your claim.

The simplest way that I can describe jurisdiction Is that a court gains jurisdiction over your case when The subject matter and parties to the divorce have a meaningful relationship to that court in the area where that court is located. Under the law, there are concepts known as subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Typically, one but preferably both of these types of jurisdiction is attached to your divorce for the case to be heard in that court. We do not need to get into the nitty-gritty of Texas Civil Procedure, but you need to know that the court you file your divorce in must have jurisdiction attached to your case.

For jurisdiction to be proper in a Texas family court, your case must have some basic facts in play. For one, you must have been a state resident of Texas or at least 180 days before filing your divorce. Essentially, you must have been a resident or happened domiciled in the form of Texas for approximately six months before filing for divorce. Texas has no general family law courts, so you must file your divorce in a particular County or District Court.

The specific requirement as to which County you file in Is that you must have been a resident of that County for the preceding 90 days. If you have recently moved counties and if not established residency or domicile to this extent, then you are not eligible to file for divorce right now. You can attempt to do so, but if your spouse challenges jurisdiction in the County where you file, there is a high likelihood that you will not be able to proceed with your case. Be prepared to produce utility statements or other documentary proof of your being a resident of that County for the specific length of time needed if people leave; a challenge will be forthcoming.

Otherwise, these are the basic jurisdictional requirements for hearing your case file before a family court judge in Texas. There may be particular issues within your divorce that cause a court not to have jurisdiction over one aspect or another of your case. This may be particularly true if you ask a Harris County family law judge to issue orders regarding children Who reside in another County or another state. Additionally, a family court judge in Harris County may decline two divide real property or other assets outside of the County, especially those outside of Texas.

Suppose you are a military family and believe that you may have some extraordinary circumstances that impact your divorce regarding property or your children and their relationship to jurisdiction in Texas. In that case, I recommend contacting an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our experienced family law attorneys can provide you with information that can help you solve these issues and make decisions for yourself in the future.

Can a military family “pick” which state to get divorced in?

As I mentioned a moment ago, some courts cannot be she decisions regarding the particular subject matter in your divorce unless they have jurisdiction. Federal law mandates that for a family court to divide up a military retirement plan, the court must have jurisdiction. For this reason, you need to make especially sure that the court you are filing in has jurisdiction over your case. If you have friends or family who seemingly went down to the courthouse and got a divorce without having this be a significant issue, then you may be correct. Civilian divorces differ from military divorces in this way.

The state in which you choose to file for divorce must be one where you or your spouse is domiciled, where one of you is a resident, or be a state where you both agree to get divorced. Keep in mind that the state in which you get divorced will utilize its family laws in the context of your case. For example, suppose you are domiciled in Texas and choose to get divorced in Harris County. In that case, the family court your case is assigned to will utilize Texas family law when determining the outcome of your case. It does not matter if you got married in Louisiana or Wisconsin; the rules of Texas will apply to your divorce.

What is a domicile?

This is a reasonable question because it is not a term that we hear used very much in everyday language. If you or your spouse are armed forces members, then your domicile means where you consider being your permanent home. For many military members, your domicile is the state you lived in when you entered for the first time. Keep in mind you can keep a domicile even if you are not living there currently. If you are in the Air Force and stationed in Colorado, but you consider your home in Sugar Land, your domicile is likely to be in Fort Bend County.

Family court judges would look at jurisdiction from this perspective: whether or not you pay taxes on a home located in Texas and if you have a solid inclination to return upon the end of your military service. Other types of evidence that could be used to indicate Texas is your domicile would be where your car is registered, where extended family lives, the location of your primary residence, and where you are registered to vote. So, if you intend to get divorced in Fort Bend County, you must produce evidence showing that your domicile is in that particular County.

Given that military spouses must sometimes reside separately due to circumstances associated with their service, you and your spouse may have different domiciles. A key point to note is that some states allow servicemembers to get divorced in that state’s County or district courts if you are only stationed for duty there and not necessarily domiciled there. However, if you choose to get a divorce in this type of court, you run the risk of other courts not acknowledging that divorce is valid.

To avoid putting yourself in your family in a situation where a divorce is not guaranteed to be determined as valid, I would recommend that you get your divorce in the state and County where you are domiciled. That way, you do not run the risk of having your divorce in all the time and money put into it declared invalid, or you have to start over again from scratch with the divorce process.

I will note that if you are the military spouse and not the spouse who serves in the military, you need to be especially aware that you need to be able to file in the County where you can have your spouse’s military retirement benefits divided. It will be a complete pain for you to have to file for divorce essentially two times. The first would be to have all nonmilitary retirement issues decided and then file for divorce or at least a division of the marital estate associated with benefits in another court altogether.

What if your spouse is deployed overseas?

If you or your spouse are deployed in another country on behalf of the military, you can still file for divorce in the United States. You can refer back to the residency or domicile requirements that we discussed earlier when determining where you can file in the United States. It goes without saying that if you live in another country right now and need to file for divorce, you should look in the list for the support of an experienced family law attorney to help you do so.

Not only are you at a disadvantage because you are not physically in the United States right now, but you also are at a disadvantage because you likely do not know much about family law and have no time to devote to representing yourself in a case like this. Divorce is tough enough, but getting a divorce when living in another country adds an entirely new challenge to an already challenging circumstance. Please do not assume that because you have heard from other people that they could get a divorce without an attorney, you will be able to. When it comes to your family’s future and financial well-being, hiring a family law attorney can be the best short-term investment you ever make.

Legal Considerations for Military Divorces

When it comes to military divorces, there are specific laws and regulations that apply, and it’s crucial to understand how they can impact the divorce process and the division of assets. One such law is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), which addresses the division of military retirement benefits. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is another law that provides certain protections for servicemembers involved in divorce proceedings.

For military couples going through a divorce, child custody and visitation arrangements can be particularly challenging due to deployments and relocations. It’s important to consider the child’s best interests and create a military parenting plan that considers the unique circumstances of military life. Factors such as the stability of the parents’ living situation, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the ability to maintain consistent contact during deployments should be carefully evaluated.

Division of Military Benefits and Pensions

Dividing military retirement benefits can be complex, and it’s essential to understand the process involved. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) plays a significant role in administering military retirement pay. The 10/10 rule states that for a former spouse to receive direct payments from DFAS, the couple must have been married for at least ten years, and the military member must have completed at least ten years of creditable military service overlapping with the marriage.

The court is responsible for determining how military pensions and benefits are divided between spouses. Factors such as the length of the marriage, the service member’s rank and years of service, and the contributions made by both spouses during the marriage are taken into account. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney experienced in military divorces to ensure a fair and equitable division of these benefits.

Residency Requirements for Military Divorces

Residency requirements for military personnel and their spouses when filing for divorce can vary depending on the circumstances. There are different options available, such as filing in the state where the military member is stationed, the state of domicile, or the state of legal residence. It’s important to understand each state’s specific rules and regulations to determine the best course of action.

If you are a military family, it’s crucial to consider how military service can impact the timing and progress of divorce proceedings. In cases where one spouse is deployed or stationed overseas, there may be challenges in scheduling court appearances or gathering necessary documentation. Temporary stays or postponement of proceedings may be possible due to military service obligations. Communicating with your attorney and the court is essential to navigate these complexities effectively.


Residency Requirement


180 days of residency before filing for divorce. Additionally, 90 days of residency in the specific county where you file.


Either spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for divorce.


Either spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the specific county where you file for at least three months.


Either spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for divorce.

New York

Either spouse must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing for divorce.


Either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for divorce.

North Carolina

Either spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.


Either spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.


Either spouse must be a resident of the state at the time of filing for divorce.


Either spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.

Unique Challenges in Military Divorces

Military divorces present unique challenges that can add additional stress to an already difficult situation. Factors such as long-distance communication, frequent relocations, and the emotional toll of military service can make the divorce process more complex. However, resources and support are available to military personnel and their families.

Organizations like the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program (AFLAP) provide legal support and guidance to servicemembers and their families during divorce proceedings. Seeking assistance from professionals specializing in military divorces can help navigate the specific challenges military families face and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Tax Considerations in Military Divorces

Tax implications are an important consideration in military divorces. Understanding how military allowances, dependency exemptions, and the division of property and assets can affect your tax obligations is crucial. Consultation with a tax professional experienced in military divorces can help you navigate the complexities of these issues and make informed decisions.

Military Benefits for Former Spouses

Former spouses of military personnel may be eligible for certain benefits, such as continued access to healthcare (TRICARE), commissary privileges, and survivor benefits. The eligibility criteria for these benefits vary, and it’s essential to understand the process of obtaining them. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to after the divorce.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Military Divorces

Mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods can be effective ways to resolve conflicts and reach mutually acceptable agreements in military divorces. These approaches can help minimize the emotional and financial costs associated with litigation. By working with a neutral mediator or arbitrator, couples can find creative solutions to their differences and avoid lengthy court battles.

International Aspects of Military Divorces

In cases involving international military divorces, additional complexities may arise due to jurisdictional issues, enforcement of orders, and the applicability of international treaties or agreements. Navigating these challenges requires careful consideration and expert guidance. It’s important to consult with professionals experienced in international family law to ensure your rights are protected and your divorce is recognized in the relevant jurisdictions.

In conclusion, military divorces come with their own set of unique considerations and challenges. Understanding the legal aspects, residency requirements, division of benefits, and available resources is crucial for navigating the process successfully. By seeking guidance from professionals specializing in military divorces, you can ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.


Congratulations, my intrepid reader, you’ve made it to the end of our thrilling journey through the maze of military divorces! We’ve uncovered the secrets, debunked the myths, and armed you with the knowledge to confidently conquer this roller coaster ride. But before we bid adieu, let’s recap the exhilarating twists and turns we’ve explored together.

Short Answer: The best state for your military divorce depends on various factors, such as residency requirements, legal considerations, and the unique challenges faced by military families. But fear not, armed with the information from this adventure, you now possess the power to choose wisely!

From unraveling the legal intricacies of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, to navigating the choppy waters of child custody and visitation arrangements, we’ve left no stone unturned. We’ve conquered the enigmatic realm of dividing military retirement benefits and uncovered the hidden gems of residency requirements. And let’s not forget the heartwarming tales of military families facing unique challenges and finding strength amidst the chaos.

But remember, dear reader, this is just the beginning of your journey. Armed with the knowledge you’ve gained, it’s time to consult with legal professionals and take action. Seek the guidance of experienced attorneys who specialize in military divorces, ensuring you have a trusted co-pilot to guide you through the remaining twists and turns.

So go forth, my brave soul, and conquer the maze of military divorces with all your strength and resilience. Remember, you are not alone on this wild ride. Reach out to support networks, lean on loved ones, and rely on the resources available to you. The road may be bumpy, but you have the power to shape your future and find solace amidst the chaos.

Thank you for joining us on this thrilling adventure, and may your journey through the best state for your military divorce be filled with clarity, empowerment, and a newfound sense of freedom. You’ve got this!

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  3. Military Divorce and division of marital property and debt
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