Residency Requirements for Military Divorce: What You Should Know?

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If you or your spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s essential to understand that the divorce process will look different as there are additional considerations. As you have a duty to your country, you can’t just exit the military or return to your hometown to file for a divorce. Please continue reading to learn about the residency requirements for a military divorce and how a proficient Suffolk County Divorce & Separation Attorney can help you navigate your legal options. 

Where Can U.S. Military Members File for Divorce?

While you can usually get married anywhere in the U.S., regardless of where you reside, the same doesn’t apply in the case of divorce. All states have residency requirements that must be met before you can be granted a divorce. In most cases, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a certain period just before you filed the divorce petition.

The primary issue when it comes to military divorce is residency. Military members frequently move around, which can make it challenging to meet residency requirements for divorce. However, New York courts will waive residency requirements to file for divorce for members of the armed forces because they may currently be stationed in a different state or even another country. Therefore, military members and their spouses may file for divorce:

  • In the state where the U.S. military members currently claim legal residence
  • In the state where the couple has legal residence
  • In the state where the U.S. military member is currently stationed

This means that even if you aren’t considered a resident in the state, you can still file for divorce in New York if you are currently stationed there.

How Does a Divorce Affect a Service Member’s Pension?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) provides a spouse with a portion of a service member’s military retired pay and benefits. However, USFSPA is not automatically entitled to a former spouse. You must have been married for at least ten years or more, during which time the member performed at least ten years of military service per the 10/10 rule. If you meet these requirements and don’t remarry, you may be eligible to receive a portion of the service member’s retired pay and benefits.

Divorce is a complex legal process, even under the best circumstances. However, it can be even more stressful for those who have served in our nation’s armed forces. If you’re facing a military divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact a knowledgeable attorney from The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C., who will fight to protect your rights and interests.


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I hired Susan to represent me in a divorce matter where I was fighting for custody and to limit my wife's equitable share of our assets. I won custody of our son, kept the marital residence, kept my professional practice, kept my building and paid less than half to my wife. This was after a long-term marriage. She could persuade the court that equitable is not equal and sometimes the man does deserve to win!

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The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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