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Steps to take in a military divorce

There can be many misconceptions about the process of divorce. Just as when a couple gets married, family members and friends offer free advice and counsel when a couple wants to end their marriage. However, not all of the words of wisdom are true. As in a military divorce, many Massachusetts couples are under the impression that there are different laws and procedures compared to a civilian divorce.  On the contrary, there is little difference between the two.

The military does hold a higher standard for service members in every aspect of their lives, including marriage. Yet, when a marriage ends, an in-service divorce is held in a civilian court, contrary to popular belief that military court is involved. However, a soldier cannot seek the formal representation of a military legal assistance attorney in civilian court.

A servicemember’s retirement or his or her “military retirement pay” is often a source of contention and of confusion between spouses and sometimes even their attorney’s. Attention needs to be paid to the interplay between the controlling federal statutes that govern how such a benefit may be paid out; and if so under what circumstances. While state Probate and Family Courts may hear the military spouse’s divorce, the parties and their counsel must be aware of the controlling federal law before finalizing any property division.

Couples should be cautious when receiving advice from friends or family when considering divorce. In order to avoid misunderstandings of the process of a military divorce, a knowledgeable attorney can help filter fact from fiction. While a soldier cannot be represented by a military legal attorney, an eligible Massachusetts attorney can help navigate the divorce process in a civilian court.

Source:, “Sorting myth from facts about military divorce”, Capt. Hyun Muniz, March 8, 2018


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