Military Divorce FAQ

3Military Divorce FAQ

The decision to end your marriage is a difficult one, and that holds true whether you are in the military or not. When one or both of you are serving in the military, it can bring up some questions. You may wonder about the steps to divorce and how being in the military will impact your separation and ultimate divorce. Here are answers to some of the most common military divorce questions. If you are considering divorce, you will want to seek legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney.


Is Military Divorce More Complicated Than Typical Divorces?

While the basics of divorce are the same, military divorce can be more complex for a variety of reasons. Military marriages are unique, and so are military divorces. Because military spouses are often deployed to different locations, you will need to prove residency in order to file for divorce. North Carolina law requires that one spouse be a resident of the state for at least 6 months prior to divorce.


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How are military divorces different from a regular divorce?”


What is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is legislation in place to help protect the rights of those serving in the military. Some of these protections could apply to service members seeking divorce. One important protection is the extension of the length of time to respond to legal civil proceedings, such as divorce. Typically, when a spouse files for divorce, the other party, called the respondent, has 30 days to respond. The SCRA allows an extension in cases where the party can prove that they were unable to respond due to their role in the military. The law may also provide protection against default judgments in some instances.


Do Military Couples Have to Be Separated Before Divorce?marine-corps-wedding-1570511-scaled

Like any other couple seeking divorce in North Carolina, military spouses must live apart for a period of one year before they can proceed with a divorce. Living apart does not just mean staying in separate quarters. It means that you live apart with the intent to end the marriage. You must live apart without getting back together. If you do reunite, you will need to begin the one-year separation period again before you can get a divorce.


Will Spouses Split Military Retirement?

North Carolina presumes that parties will divide their marital property 50/50 when they get divorced. The distribution is considered equitable. In military divorces, a spouse may be entitled to a portion of the military spouse’s retirement in some cases. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act allows the state to make decisions regarding the division of marital property, including military retirement benefits. The court could allocate a portion of military retirement to a spouse in some situations.


Every divorce is different, and military divorces can be even more unique than others. It is beneficial to meet with a knowledgeable North Carolina divorce attorney for guidance throughout the divorce process. Contact our legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation.



The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





UNIFORMED SERVICES FORMER SPOUSES PROTECTION ACT (USFSPA) | North Carolina State Bar – Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (


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