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Residency issues in a Florida military divorce

While most married couples choose where to reside, the U.S. military decides where active service members live and for how long. Relocating, often repeatedly, and lengthy deployments place a lot of stress on Florida military families and marriages.

Laws applicable to military divorces differ from non-military divorces, whether a service member is stationed stateside or overseas.

In some ways, military spouses have more divorce issues than other couples. Jurisdictional options open when divorcing service members have been stationed or married somewhere other than their states of origin. You don't have to divorce in the state where you were married, but you must divorce in a state where residency requirements have been satisfied.

Federal laws are incorporated in military divorces which are granted by states under civilian laws. States have different requirements for how long a person must live there before being considered an official resident. Some states have no time limits to establish residency -- in Florida, at least one spouse must live in or be stationed in the state a minimum of six months before a divorce petition can be filed.

A half year residency may seem like an easily attainable goal, unless your address has been bounced around by the U.S. military. There may be several states where you can file, but divorce laws vary widely. Spouses also must consider how individual states view separation, grounds for divorce, division of military benefits, child custody, support and alimony.

A complete legal assessment should factor in any added time and costs of taking legal action in another state. Keep in mind, if you do file for divorce in a state other than the one in which you now live, you may need to retain another lawyer, specifically licensed to practice family law in that state.

Among other services, a civilian attorney can advise military personnel or their spouses about jurisdictional rules for divorce.

Source: Military.com, "Military Divorce: Why Where You File Matters," Rebekah Sanderlin, CinCHouse.com, accessed April. 22, 2015

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