Introduction to Military Divorce in San Diego

Military couples in San Diego face unique challenges when navigating the complexities of divorce. The legal framework governing military divorce is distinct, involving complexities such as jurisdiction, benefits, and military-specific regulations.

It is crucial for military couples to seek legal guidance from an experienced military divorce lawyer who understands the intricacies of this legal landscape. An attorney can provide personalized advice, protect your rights, and help you navigate the process efficiently and effectively.


Determining jurisdiction in military divorce cases can be complex. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) grants military members certain protections, including the right to have their divorce case heard in the state where they are stationed, regardless of where their spouse resides.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the military member has established a permanent residence in a different state, the divorce may be filed there.


Military divorce can impact a range of benefits, including housing allowances, medical coverage, and retirement pay. It is essential to consult with an attorney to understand how the divorce will affect your financial situation and to ensure that your rights are protected.

Child Custody and Support

Child custody and support arrangements in military divorce cases are often influenced by the unique circumstances of military life, such as deployments and relocations. An experienced attorney can help you create a parenting plan that accommodates the challenges and complexities of military service.

Choosing the Right Military Divorce Lawyer

Selecting the right military divorce lawyer is crucial for protecting your interests and navigating the complexities of military-related divorce proceedings. Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice:

Experience and Reputation: Seek an attorney with substantial experience handling military divorces. A lawyer with a proven track record of success in this specialized area will be well-versed in the unique laws and regulations governing military divorces.

Advantages of Hiring a Military Law Specialist

  • In-Depth Knowledge: Military law is a complex and ever-changing field. A lawyer who specializes in this area will have a deep understanding of the relevant laws, regulations, and case precedents.
  • Military Culture Understanding: Military divorce lawyers are familiar with the unique culture and challenges faced by military families. They can provide tailored advice and support based on your specific circumstances.
  • Negotiation and Advocacy Skills: Skilled military divorce lawyers possess exceptional negotiation and advocacy skills. They can effectively represent your interests and advocate for your rights in court.

Tips for Finding and Interviewing Potential Lawyers

Referrals and Research: Ask friends, family, or colleagues for recommendations. Conduct online research to identify lawyers with experience in military divorces.

Interview Multiple Candidates: Schedule consultations with several potential lawyers to assess their qualifications, communication style, and personality fit.

Questions to Ask: During interviews, ask questions about their experience, success rate, fees, and availability. Inquire about their approach to military divorce cases and how they handle specific issues related to your situation.

Legal Considerations in Military Divorce

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Divorce laws in California apply to military couples just as they do to civilian couples. However, there are certain legal considerations that are unique to military divorces, including the division of military retirement benefits and VA benefits.

Filing for Divorce

The process of filing for divorce in California is the same for military and civilian couples. The first step is to file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. The petition must include the following information:

* The names and addresses of the spouses
* The date of marriage
* The date of separation
* The grounds for divorce
* A request for the division of property and assets
* A request for spousal support, if applicable

Once the petition is filed, the other spouse must be served with a copy of the petition and summons. The other spouse then has 30 days to file a response to the petition. If the other spouse does not file a response, the court may grant a default judgment of divorce.

Division of Property and Assets

The division of property and assets in a military divorce is governed by California law. California is a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage is considered to be community property and is divided equally between the spouses upon divorce. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, property that was acquired by one spouse before the marriage or inherited by one spouse during the marriage is considered to be separate property and is not subject to division upon divorce.

Military retirement benefits are considered to be community property in California. However, the division of military retirement benefits is governed by federal law. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) allows a former spouse to receive a portion of the military member’s retirement benefits if the former spouse was married to the military member for at least 10 years during which the military member was on active duty.

VA benefits are also considered to be community property in California. However, the division of VA benefits is governed by federal law. The Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1988 (VBIA) allows a former spouse to receive a portion of the veteran’s VA benefits if the former spouse was married to the veteran for at least one year during which the veteran was on active duty.

Child Custody and Support in Military Divorce

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In military divorce cases, determining child custody and support involves unique factors and challenges faced by military parents.

The court considers the child’s best interests, including their physical, emotional, and developmental needs, when determining custody. Military-specific factors like deployments, relocations, and the parent’s ability to provide a stable environment are also taken into account.

Child Support

Military parents have various child support options, including the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). This act allows former spouses to receive a portion of the service member’s military retirement pay as support.

Other support options include traditional court orders and agreements between the parents. The amount of support is determined based on factors like the service member’s income, the child’s needs, and the length of the marriage.

Financial Considerations in Military Divorce


Military divorce involves complex financial implications that require careful consideration. One of the most significant aspects is the division of military pay and benefits.

Division of Military Pay and Benefits

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs the division of military pay and benefits in divorce proceedings. Under USFSPA, a military spouse may be eligible to receive a portion of their former spouse’s military pay and benefits, including:

  • Basic pay
  • Housing allowance
  • Subsistence allowance
  • Retirement pay

Emotional and Psychological Impact of Military Divorce

Military divorce poses unique emotional and psychological challenges for couples. The stresses of deployment, separation, and the military lifestyle can exacerbate the difficulties of divorce.

Unique Stressors

Military spouses face unique stressors that can strain relationships. Deployment and extended separations can create feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. The demands of military service can also lead to financial instability, housing insecurity, and difficulty accessing support systems.

Emotional Impact

Military divorce can trigger a range of emotions, including grief, anger, resentment, and guilt. The loss of a military spouse can feel like the loss of a part of oneself, as military life often intertwines personal and professional identities.

Psychological Impact

Divorce can also have a significant psychological impact on military spouses. They may experience depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse. The challenges of military divorce can also affect children, who may struggle with adjustment, behavioral problems, and academic difficulties.

Resources for Support

Military spouses seeking support and counseling can access resources through the military and civilian organizations. The Department of Defense offers programs such as Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program. Civilian organizations like the American Red Cross and the USO also provide support services for military families.