You have given your life to military service, including your marriage. As a result, if you divorce while in military service, it will be governed by military family law. However, if you are considering divorce, you likely want to know whether your station’s location affects the marriage.
Is my military divorce affected by where I am stationed?
Yes. Your state does affect your divorce as it follows state law, local procedures, as well as federal statutes and military regulations. The service member or their spouse can file for divorce where the spouse resides, the state where the service member is stationed or the state where the service member has claimed their legal residency.
In New Jersey, either the service member or spouse must be a resident of New Jersey for at least 1 year to file here. Though, if the service member is currently serving and stationed in New Jersey, the 1-year requirement does not apply.
Grounds for divorce
Unlike many other states, New Jersey allows both no-fault and fault divorce. As with other states, our state allows for “irreconcilable differences” to be the basis of a no-fault divorce. This means that, for at least 6 months, you and your spouse have not been able to get along and there is no reasonable expectation for reconciliation.
Conversely, a fault-based divorce seeks to blame the divorce on one spouse. The fault can be mental illness, desertion, adultery, separation, addiction, cruelty, imprisonment or deviant sexual conduct. A fault-based divorce requires proof and often litigation because a finding of fault can affect all the other aspects of the divorce to the detriment of the person found at fault.
Property division is one such way that can be affected by a fault determination as property division is done through equitable distribution. This means the judge splits assets based on what is fair, which can be affected by fault.
Another key concern for a military divorce is how your military benefits will be split. These benefits are governed by federal laws, like the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.