Georgia divorces involving an individual that is serving in active duty, the reserves, National Guard, or retired military are referred to as a military divorce. Being a service member does not exempt an individual or couple from the same requirements that civilian couples must meet when filing for divorce. The difference between a civilian and military divorce is a set of unique rules regarding the division of military pensions, residency requirements for divorce filing, and legal protections for the military member.
Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act federal law will not divide nor distribute a military members retirement to a spouse unless the service member and spouse have been married for 10 years or longer while the member has been in active military duty. To be eligible for full benefits after retirement, including medical, a spouse must pass the 20/20/20 test in which the marriage has lasted at least 20 years, the military member performed at least 20 years of service, and there was at least 20 years overlap of the marriage and time spent in the military services.
In terms of GA divorce residency requirements for filing a military divorce, many states will allow a military member or their spouse to file in the state the military member is stationed, the state where the spouse filing resides, or the state where the military member claims legal residency. The couple will be subject to the laws of the state where the divorce petition is filed including laws regarding property distribution, child custody, and child support.
An active duty member has legal protection from being held in default from failing to respond to legal action. Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act military members are protected from lawsuits such as divorce petitions so the serving member can “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation.” In effect, the legal proceedings of a divorce can be delayed while the service member is in active duty and up to 60 days following active duty.
If you are an active service member seeking a divorce, we strongly recommend you consult with our Divorce Attorney Jeff Cleghorn, a military veteran. To set up a consultation, give us a call at (404-844-2856).