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3 facts about divorcing while overseas in the military

As military members, traveling the world to different duty stations is not uncommon. However, whether the non-military spouses travel too, there are several challenges to getting divorced while stationed outside the United States.

Here are a few facts to help navigate divorce while overseas.

1. Understand which divorce laws take precedence

While married couples can live in another country for several years before filing for divorce, they file according to U.S. state laws if both are U.S. citizens. They do not need to file in the country they are living in, which may have very different divorce regulations than the United States. Additionally, the couple’s home state might not recognize a divorce filed in another country, and they may need to redo the process.

2. Be aware that laws prevent spouses from obtaining default judgments

Divorce can take longer to process when servicemembers reside overseas without their families. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act requires proper notification when their spouses file for divorce. Since notification may take a long time under certain circumstances, the law allows judges to delay the proceedings until the service members are notified and return stateside to participate in the divorce procedures.

3. Know the first steps to take when family members reside overseas

Service members have to file for divorce in their home state. This requirement makes it difficult to file when both spouses live overseas. One option may be to have non-military spouses and children file an Early Return of Dependents to return stateside to file for divorce.

Divorcing while stationed overseas is challenging. Knowing how to proceed allows both spouses to decide when and where to file.