How Long Does a Military Divorce Take?

Military life is tough, not just for the individual but also for their family. Military divorce is a complex process that involves laws and regulations unique to the military. As a result, it’s no surprise that the divorce process for military couples can take longer than those for civilians. But how long does a military divorce take? In this complete guide, we will discuss all aspects of military divorce, including the time it takes to complete the process.

Military Divorce Duration
Military Divorce Duration

Understanding the Basics of Military Divorce

Military divorce involves unique laws and regulations that differ from those of civilian divorce. Military marriages are governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), which regulates how military pensions are divided among spouses after a divorce. Additionally, military divorce involves additional paperwork, such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and a former spouse’s right to Tricare health coverage. Understanding these laws can help simplify the process and give you a better idea of how long the divorce process will take.

The process of military divorce is similar to a civilian divorce, but some additional requirements can extend the timeline. Here’s a brief overview:

• Filing for divorce: One party must meet the residency requirements for the state where they intend to file. The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows service members to delay the divorce process for up to 60 days or more if they are on active duty.

• Service of process: The military spouse must be properly served with the divorce papers. This can take longer if the military member is on deployment or stationed overseas.

• Division of military benefits: Military pensions, healthcare benefits, and other benefits accrued during the marriage are considered marital property and must be divided accordingly. This requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which can add extra time to the process.

• Child custody and support: The court will consider the best interests of the child, but may also take into account the unique circumstances of military families, such as frequent moves and deployments.

How Long Does a Military Divorce Take?

The length of time it takes for a military divorce to be completed depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case and whether or not there are any disputes between the spouses. On average, a military divorce takes around six months to complete. However, if there are any disputes, it can take much longer. In some cases, it can take up to several years to complete a military divorce.

Factors That Affect the Timeline of a Military Divorce

The length of a military divorce can vary depending on several factors, such as:

State laws: Each state has its laws and requirements regarding divorce, and military members have to comply with additional military regulations, such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). These laws and regulations may add time to the overall process, especially if you have to move to another state or country for deployment or other reasons.

Contested vs. Uncontested divorce: One of the factors that can impact the length of a military divorce is whether it is contested or uncontested. Uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, typically take less time to finalize. On the other hand, contested divorces can be lengthy and complex as the court must mediate the disagreements between the parties. Some common issues in a military-contested divorce include child custody, spousal support, and division of military pension or retirement benefits.

Military status: If the military member is on active duty or deployment, it can be more challenging to serve them with divorce papers and attend court hearings.

• Complexity of the case: If there are complex issues, such as division of military retirement pay or child custody disputes, it can add time to the process.

Jurisdictional Issues

Military divorces also have additional jurisdictional issues that can impact the timeline. Depending on the case, jurisdiction can be determined by the service member’s state of legal residence, the state where the military spouse is currently stationed, or the state where the divorce was filed. If there is disagreement over jurisdiction, a court may need to make a ruling before the divorce can proceed.

Benefits of Hiring a Military Divorce Lawyer

Military divorce is complex, and the best way to ensure you receive a favorable outcome is to seek the assistance of an experienced military divorce lawyer. A lawyer familiar with military divorce knows how to navigate the system and ensure that your rights are protected. Having a lawyer can also help speed up the process and reduce the stress, anxiety, and emotional burden that comes with divorce.

Steps Involved in a Military Divorce

The military divorce process is similar to a civilian divorce but with some additional steps. These steps include:

  • Pre-divorce counseling: Before a couple can file for divorce, they must complete pre-divorce counseling.
  • Filing for divorce: Once the counseling is completed, the next step is to file for divorce.
  • Serving the divorce papers: The divorce papers must be served to the other spouse, and they have 20 days to respond.
  • Discovery: Each spouse must disclose all assets and debts to ensure that everything is divided fairly.
  • Negotiations and mediation: If there are disputes, a mediator helps the couple reach an agreement.
  • Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case goes to trial.

Tips to Speed Up the Military Divorce Process

If you want to expedite your military divorce, here are some tips:

• Hire an experienced military divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process and ensure that all requirements are met on time.

• Keep communication lines open with your spouse to work towards an uncontested divorce.

• Respond to court requests and attend hearings promptly to avoid delays.

• Avoid unnecessary disputes and prioritize compromise to expedite negotiations.

• Be organized and provide all necessary documents and information to avoid unnecessary delays.


Military divorce is a complex process, and it can take longer than a civilian divorce due to the unique laws and regulations Military couples are subject to. The amount of time it takes for a military divorce to be completed depends on several factors, but on average, it takes around six months. Understanding the military divorce process and seeking experienced legal help can help expedite the process and ensure that your rights are protected. Remember that in a military divorce case, it is essential to work with a military divorce lawyer who has the necessary experience.


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