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Jurisdiction can impact the outcome in military divorces

Florida is home to a number of military bases. Many service members and their families who spend time stationed here move around considerably -- within the U.S. as well as abroad. While Florida may be their home for a time, they don't consider it their home state. Likewise, many Floridians are stationed at bases in other states and abroad.

Therefore, when a service member or military spouse files for divorce, the decision about what state to file in can be a complicated one. State divorce laws vary considerably, so the state in which your divorce takes place can impact your settlement and other issues such as custody. Military spousal benefits, unlike most other divorce matters, are determined by federal law.

One family law attorney, who is also an Army veteran, says that generally spouses file in the state where they're currently residing. State laws determine whether military couples need to file in that state or their state of permanent residency. A state court will determine whether to take the case or pass it to another one.

Matters can be further complicated if the spouses are living in different states or if a service member is deployed or stationed overseas. When service members' responsibilities make it impossible to be present in whatever jurisdiction the divorce proceedings occur, their rights are protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

If you and/or your estranged spouse is a service member, it's important to have the legal guidance of a family law attorney who is experienced in military divorce. Your attorney can work to protect your rights under state and federal law as well as the regulations of the military from the very beginning through the end of the process.

Source: Task and Purpose, "Getting Divorced? Here’s Where You Should File," Sarah Sicard, accessed Nov. 27, 2016

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