If you are approached about getting a divorce and are in the military, you should know that there are support services open to you. As a service member, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects your legal rights when you’re on active duty. That means that if you receive divorce documents, you’ll have longer to respond.
For example, if you cannot attend court due to being on duty, a stay or postponement of the proceeding can be justified and allowed. Similarly, you are protected against certain default judgments that could occur if you don’t show up in court because you are serving.
Military divorces: Treated as civilian matters
While military divorces are considered to be civilian matters, you have the right to an attorney on or off base. On base, you can obtain legal assistance through the installation legal assistance offices. Your spouse may be able to do so as well. If you’re looking for an attorney off-base, that’s also allowed.
If you are overseas at the time when the divorce is filed, it can be very complicated, so it’s best to talk to your attorney as soon as possible. U.S. courts don’t always recognize foreign divorces, so you should prefer a divorce in the United States when possible. If you are living overseas, the documentation you need may take longer to reach the United States, so that is something else to consider when filing for divorce.
Our site has more on military divorces and what you can expect. Even in complex situations, it’s possible to get the divorce you want.