If you or your spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, your divorce will look different than a civilian case. Military divorces in New York are subject to specific guidelines to protect the rights of both service members and their spouses. The main issue that arises in military divorces is meeting residency requirements. Please continue reading to learn where U.S. military members can file for divorce and how a knowledgeable Garden City Divorce Lawyer can help you navigate these confusing times. 

What Are the Residency Requirements for U.S. Military Members?

Although couples can usually obtain marriage licenses without issue in other states, the same is not true for divorce. Each state in the U.S. has specific residency requirements that must be met before filing divorce papers. Generally, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a particular time before filing the divorce petition. Military service members face challenges in meeting these requirements, as they frequently relocate due to being stationed in various places.

Given these unique circumstances, New York waives the residency requirement to file for divorce for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Even though a military member may be stationed in another state or country, they can file for divorce in New York if their primary residence is in New York. In addition, a military member or spouse who is not considered a resident may be stationed in New York and can still file for divorce in New York. This is because the state tries to resolve the complexities of a military divorce. As such, you can choose to file for a divorce:

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

How Do I Serve Divorce Papers?

To serve your active-duty spouse, you will have to serve them at the base where they are stationed. They must be served the divorce papers by a neutral third party over 18 with no vested interest in the marriage. If you plan on pursuing an uncontested divorce, a military member can sign an affidavit of service, eliminating the need for the summons delivery. If you plan on pursuing a contested divorce, the military member can reject the serve and request a stay. This essentially allows them to postpone the divorce until they return.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that military divorces have no default judgments. A default judgment is usually issued if a spouse fails to respond or be present for the divorce proceedings. When this occurs, the court will settle the divorce in favor of the petitioner. However, since active-duty military members often cannot be present, courts are not allowed to make any judgments until the spouse returns or until they have appointed legal counsel to act on their behalf.

If you are facing a military divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact a dedicated lawyer from the Law Offices of Eyal Talasazzan, P.C., who can protect your rights and interests.