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Military Divorce in Pennsylvania

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 22-Feb-2016

Are you and/or your spouse a member of the U.S. military? If so, then your divorce will not be identical to a civilian divorce; you will face unique differences. While a spouse can certainly obtain a divorce from an active duty member, there are specific state and federal laws that will apply to their divorce action.

For example, a military divorce conducted in Pennsylvania may involve:

  • The extra 90-day waiting period, which applies to defendants who are on full-time duty (this applies, even if you've been separated for two years).
  • The waiver affidavit forms, which are signed by both spouses if the defendant is in full-time military service.

If your spouse is the defendant and he or she is in the military, you likely will not be able to use the no-fault divorce process through the county's website. Essentially, the simplified website process is not designed for military personnel. That being said, active duty military spouses are generally required to hire an attorney.

During a Pennsylvania military divorce, the following applies:

  • The military spouse must be represented by a divorce lawyer.
  • Both spouses must sign the special waiver affidavit.
  • The active duty military spouse has to be served in person with the divorce complaint as well as other documents.
  • The 90-day extra waiting period applies.

Why are there special rules for military spouses?

Special rules apply to military members to ensure that their rights are fully protected and to shield them against "default" divorces, which occur when someone fails to respond to a divorce action. These laws were specifically designed to protect military members from getting divorced without being aware of it.

How is a military spouse served if he or she is overseas? The active duty spouse must be served personally with a summons and a copy of the divorce action. Once that occurs, the Pennsylvania court can have jurisdiction over the military spouse.

If the divorce is uncontested, the military spouse may not have to be served if he or she is willing to sign and file a waiver affidavit, which acknowledges their divorce action.

To learn more about the issues concerning a military divorce, including child support and dividing military retirement benefits, contact a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce lawyer from Cairns Law Offices for a free consultation!