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Divorce is difficult for all, and military divorces are no exception. If you’re currently going through a military divorce, you’re likely wondering how long the process will take. The answer to that question depends on several factors, but in general, military divorces tend to take anywhere from a few months to 24 months, which is much longer than civilian divorces. 

Though civilian divorces and military divorces share a lot of similarities, there are some key differences that can impact the length of the divorce process. 

One of the most significant differences is that military divorces are governed by both state and federal law. This means that there are two sets of rules that need to be followed, which can make the process more complicated. 

In addition, military divorces often involve more complex issues, such as the division of retirement benefits and custody of children.

This article will explore how long a typical military divorce takes and some of the factors that can impact the process. Understanding the process can help you better manage your expectations if you’re currently going through a military divorce.

Military Divorce

How Is A Military Divorce Different From A Civilian Divorce?

The primary difference between civilian and military divorces is that military divorces are governed by both state and federal law. So, if you are divorcing in California, then the answer to your question will be different than if you were divorcing in Florida. 

This is because the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) is a federal law that governs the division of military retirement pay in a divorce.  While the state laws will still apply to other aspects of the divorce, such as child custody and division of property, the USFSPA will take precedence when it comes to dividing retirement benefits. 

The USFSPA applies to all branches of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.  As a result, military divorces are generally more complex than civilian divorces, and they often involve more complex issues.

Additionally, if any one of the couples is on active duty, then the divorce may be placed on hold until that person is no longer on active duty. This is to ensure that the person on active duty is not taken advantage of during the divorce process.  

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act can also put a stay on the divorce proceedings if one of the parties is on active duty.

Laws Involved In Military Divorce

As mentioned above, both federal and state laws will apply to military divorce. However, the following given are some of the key laws that are involved in a military divorce:  

  • The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 
  • The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act and 
  • The Military Family Protection Act.  

Each of these laws offers protection to either party during a military divorce and can help to make the process go more smoothly.  However, it’s important to note that these laws are complex and can be challenging to navigate.  As a result, it’s often best to work with an attorney who is familiar with the ins and outs of military divorce.

Your Servicemember Rights

When either one or both of you are servicemembers, you have additional rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This law protects you from having to go to court while you are on active duty. 

The law also protects you from having your divorce proceedings used against you in your military career.  This means that your divorce cannot be used to deny you promotion or benefits or to punish you in any way.

Filing The Military Divorce

If you are a service member, then where to file for military divorce is the first thing you need to consider. But this can be pretty confusing as service members move frequently and often have to travel across the country. 

In this case, it is not necessary to file a military divorce in the state where you were married. You can file the military divorce in the state where you or your spouse currently reside or have resided for at least the past 6 months. You can also file it in the state where you file your taxes. Also, residency requirements can vary depending on your military status and state, so taking help from an attorney can be helpful.

 filing for your divorce

Quick Overview Of The Military Divorce Process

Though the military divorce process varies significantly from state to state, specific procedures are common to all.

  • The first and foremost step is determining where you are filing for your divorce.
  • The next step is to file a Petition for Divorce with the court. In this petition, you will need to state the grounds for your divorce. 
  • Your spouse will then have to be served with the divorce papers and will have a certain amount of time to respond.
  • SCRA can grant you or your spouse a 90-day stay if fulfilled the requirements.
  • If your spouse does not respond, then you may be able to proceed with a default divorce.

During this time, you may need to appear in court for hearings or provide additional documents. Alimony and child custody are also discussed in this process.


A military divorce can take anywhere between a few months to two years to be finalized. Factors such as the number of children, the division of assets, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested can all play a role in how long the process takes.

If you are going through a separation, it’s important to have an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of the process and ensure that your rights are protected.