New York Military Divorce Attorney

Facing the Challenges of Military Divorce

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process, and when one or both spouses are members of the armed forces, the situation becomes even more complicated. As a military spouse, filing for military divorce differs from filing for divorce as a civilian. There are special considerations that you have to keep in mind. For this reason, it would be wise to seek legal advice from our New York military divorce attorney who can guide you through the different stages of the divorce process.

At Stepanian Law Firm, we have extensive experience in handling many types of family law concerns, including prenuptial agreements, divorce, child custody and visitation, parental access, child support, and spousal support. We can help you navigate the complexities of military divorce in New York, ensuring that your rights are protected and your interests are advocated for throughout the divorce process.

Contact us now to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our New York divorce and family law attorneys and let us help you find the best path forward during this difficult time. We serve in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Nassau County, and Westchester County.

What is Military Divorce?

Military divorce is a legal process that dissolves a marriage when one or both spouses are members of the armed forces. Like civilian divorces, military divorces involve the termination of a marital union, with the associated legal, financial, and emotional ramifications.

However, military divorces come with a unique set of challenges and considerations due to the distinctive circumstances of military life. If you are a service member or are married to a service member and are considering divorce, our New York military divorce attorney can help you navigate the potential pitfalls that families face in military divorce proceedings.

What are the Requirements of a Military Divorce?

Military divorce, like any divorce, involves a legal process that must adhere to specific requirements and procedures. However, military divorces come with additional considerations due to the unique circumstances of military life and the application of both state and federal laws. Our New York military divorce attorney can provide guidance on meeting the requirements, protect the rights and interests of both spouses, and ensure compliance with the laws that govern military divorces

Residency Requirements

To file for military divorce, at least one spouse must meet the residency requirements of the state where they intend to initiate the divorce proceedings. For military members stationed in a state where they are not legal residents, special provisions under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) may allow them to maintain residency in their home state for divorce purposes.

Military families have three options for where they can file for divorce:

  • The state where the filing spouse resides
  • The state where the military member is stationed
  • The state where the military member claims legal residence

Grounds for Divorce

All states, including New York, have “no-fault” divorce options, so neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing by the other spouse to obtain a divorce. Alternatively, spouses can choose to file for divorce on “fault” grounds. A military member or their spouse can file for divorce in the event of:

  • Irretrievable marriage breakdown for at least six months
  • Cruel behavior that endangers your mental or physical well-being
  • Infidelity
  • One year has passed since separating
  • Either spouse spending at least three years in prison


Determining the appropriate court or jurisdiction for the divorce is crucial in military divorce cases, especially when spouses are stationed in different states or countries. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) provides guidelines for determining jurisdiction in military divorce cases, primarily based on the legal residence of the military member.

How Are Divorce Papers Served in a Military Divorce?

If your spouse is deployed, you can’t just have him or her served as you would in a traditional divorce. Serving divorce papers on a military spouse involves specific considerations due to the mobile nature of military life and the protections afforded to servicemembers under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Our New York military divorce attorney can explain how divorce papers are typically served.

Before initiating the divorce process, it is essential to confirm whether your spouse is an active-duty servicemember. The SCRA applies primarily to active-duty military personnel. One provision of the act is that divorce proceedings may be postponed for the entire time that a servicemember is on active duty and for up to 60 days after their tour of duty ends.

In cases of an uncontested divorce, the active-duty member can submit a waiver affidavit. This will allow the divorce to move forward. In all other cases, though, the civilian spouse needs to wait for the active-duty servicemember’s tour to end to begin divorce proceedings.

How Is Spousal Maintenance and Child Support Handled in a Military Divorce?

Spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support are vital financial considerations in a military divorce. By working closely with our New York military divorce attorney, couples can ensure that these financial matters are addressed in a way that is fair, flexible, and in the best interests of all parties involved.

When determining spousal maintenance, courts consider various factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial needs and resources, the standard of living during the marriage, and the recipient spouse’s ability to become financially independent.

A court may order child support and spousal maintenance, although a servicemember cannot be required to provide more than 60% of their pay between the two. Military members who fail to pay court-ordered child support or maintenance can be reduced in rank, receive a pay cut, or lose out on leave time.

How Is Child Custody Handled in a Military Divorce?

Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged and critical aspects of a military divorce. When parents in the armed forces decide to part ways, considerations related to child custody must address not only the best interests of the child but also the unique circumstances associated with military life. Our New York military divorce lawyer can explain how child custody is typically handled in a military divorce.

The SCRA provides legal protections to active-duty servicemembers, including provisions related to child custody. It allows servicemembers to request a stay of custody proceedings during deployments and temporary duty assignments, ensuring that their rights as parents are not compromised while they are fulfilling their military duties. While this delay may frustrate the non-military spouse, the court can still make temporary custody orders in situations where a custody issue needs to be resolved promptly until the servicemember can participate. These delays will provide you with time to respond to your legal papers and make arrangements to attend hearings.

Call Our New York Military Divorce Attorney Now!

Navigating a military divorce in New York requires a combination of legal knowledge, sensitivity to the demands of military service, and a focus on protecting the rights and interests of all parties involved. Whether addressing child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, or the service of divorce papers, individuals involved in military divorces benefit from consulting our New York military divorce attorneys at Stepanian Law Firm.

Our divorce and family law firm provides comprehensive legal guidance to clients contemplating or going through a military divorce. This includes explaining the legal processes, rights, and obligations associated with divorce in New York and how they apply to military families. We advocate for our clients’ rights and interests during this difficult time.

Contact us now to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and let us ensure that your divorce proceeds smoothly and in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. We will help reduce the emotional burden on you during a challenging time, allowing you to focus on moving forward with your life.


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