The Role of Jurisdiction in Divorce for Military Couples

Whether you’re figuring out child custody, child support, or the division of assets, there are laws in place that apply to military couples that don’t apply to civilians.


Couples consisting of one or both partners who are serving in the military may reside in different locations, making the divorce more complicated.


More importantly, it makes jurisdiction a factor that needs to be considered before initiating the divorce process.

Understanding Jurisdiction in Divorce

Jurisdiction refers to a court’s legal authority to hear and make a decision on a legal case. It can apply to the case’s subject matter as well as the court’s ability to enter an order against a defendant.

In the case of a divorce, the individual filing the petition must be a resident of Georgia for a period of at least six months. Cases involving divorce, child support, and alimony are under the jurisdiction of the state’s superior courts.

Failing to file a divorce petition with the superior court or meeting the minimum six-month residency requirement eliminates the court’s jurisdiction to hear your case.

What Military Couples Need to Know About Jurisdiction

A military servicemember who is not a resident of Georgia can file for divorce in the state if they’ve resided at a military post located in Georgia.

But determining the venue for a divorce involving a military couple can be complex. A family law attorney who understands the unique needs of military couples (and the laws that apply to them) can help you navigate the divorce process.

Deployment to another country may require military couples to use email, telephone, and mail to complete the divorce process. Your attorney can help you determine the best options for you to pursue the legal outcomes you need to protect your family.

Divorce Decisions for Military Couples

Like civilians, military couples going through a divorce seek to achieve child custody and support, alimony, and property decisions that are in their best interests.

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), divorce proceedings can be postponed to allow one or both parties to wait until their service ends before addressing a divorce petition.

When it comes to the division of property, military couples need to consider retirement funds obtained through their military service, which can be considered marital property by the courts and, therefore, subject to division.

But factors that include the amount of time served in the military, as well as the length of the marriage, can affect how these retirement funds are handled.

Why You Need Experienced Legal Help

Understanding jurisdiction is critical to the divorce process, especially when it involves military servicemembers. Filing for divorce in the wrong jurisdiction or venue can lead to costly delays and other issues.

Having the resources you need to understand how state and federal laws impact military personnel can influence the outcome of your divorce.

An attorney can help you secure your military retirement benefits and navigate the federal regulations and guidelines that govern their division and distribution. They can help you address concerns related to the division of property.

Working with an attorney can help you gather information related to your or your spouse’s income so that courts can make informed decisions related to child support and alimony.

Changes in parenting plans and modifying visitation schedules are other issues that an experienced family law attorney can help you address.

Filing for divorce in the state of Georgia requires you to consider jurisdiction as it relates to your circumstances. Working with an attorney will help you meet the state’s requirements while considering the unique laws that apply to military personnel.