How can servicemembers who regularly move decide where to file for divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Military Divorce

Many divorcing couples only have one option regarding their divorce filings. They must initiate divorce in the state where they currently live. It is quite common for people to remain in the same state their entire lives without ever relocating.

Military servicemembers do not have the luxury of stationary living arrangements. Instead, they must move according to decisions made by the chain of command. Their entire family might move from one base to another, making it challenging to decide what jurisdiction is the right option when filing for divorce.

How can a service member decide the appropriate state in which to file for divorce?

Reviewing residency requirements

Every state has its own rules regarding who is eligible to access the legal system. Some states require that people remain in the state for several months before filing a divorce in that state. Other jurisdictions are more flexible. Washington is one of the more permissive states. Someone must reside in the state at the time that they file for divorce, but there isn’t a waiting period before they are eligible to do so.

Examining state laws

As with jurisdiction matters, every state has different rules regarding property division, financial support obligations and custody disputes. Those who know the rules in the jurisdictions they consider can make more informed decisions about where to file. For some people, the rules currently enforced in Washington might be favorable. The family courts require a fair property division outcome when applying community property standards to marital resources. The courts also focus on the best interests of the children when making custody determinations.

If those standards could potentially yield a more favorable outcome for the party filing for divorce, they might select Washington as the jurisdiction for their divorce proceedings. Every divorce case is unique, and spouses need to prepare carefully for a process that may have long-term implications for their family relationships and financial stability.

Seemingly minor decisions, like the jurisdiction where someone files for divorce, can actually affect the filer and the rest of their family more than they might initially realize. Those who take the time to look into their circumstances and applicable statutes may feel more confident about initiating a military divorce. Filing for divorce in Washington might be the best option for servicemembers or their spouses in certain circumstances.