How to Get a Divorce From a Military Spouse in California

By Rebecca Sims

The procedure for divorcing a military spouse in California is the same as the procedure followed by civilian residents. You or your spouse must be able to claim California as a legal residence. When this condition is met, you'll file for divorce in the California county where you or your spouse reside. Although the procedures for military and civilian divorces are the same, there are some unique conditions that you'll need to be aware of when divorcing an active duty military spouse.

California Military Divorce: The Basics

If you've been a resident of California for six months and a county resident for three months, you can file for for divorce in California by filing a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" with the county superior court. Your military spouse does not have to be in the state when you file. California law, however, requires that the non-filing spouse is notified of the proceedings regardless of where he is stationed.

Serving a Military Spouse Stateside

When you file for divorce in California, the non-filing spouse needs to be served. This means that your spouse must be officially notified that you've begun divorce proceedings. If your spouse lives off-base, the process is identical to a civilian divorce. The papers can be delivered, "served," in person or by mail with a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. If your spouse resides on a military base, he may be served in person by a process server or sheriff. If you have trouble doing this, contact base officials for assistance in making the service member available to receive service.

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Serving a Spouse on Base or Overseas

Overseas military personnel can often be served by certified mail with return receipt to their Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office address. Be aware that some countries require service through specific channels. Not all military facilities are set up to receive certified mail or process the required return receipt. If you have any questions about a particular duty station, contact the office of the base commander or base operations manager.

Contested Divorces in the Military

Federal law makes delaying military divorces easier for active duty service members, especially when there are contested issues of the divorce. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows active duty service members to delay certain civil proceedings, including divorce, for 90 days or longer. This allows service members to postpone the divorce process when their service, particularly overseas, prevents them from participating in the proceeding.

Summary Dissolution

Summary dissolution is a quick and simple way to get a divorce when the divorce is uncontested. To qualify for a summary dissolution in California, you have to meet certain requirements, such as being married for five years or less, have no children, possess minimal assets and debts, and neither spouse is seeking alimony. If you qualify, both spouses complete, sign and file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution. A spouse deployed overseas can sign the petition and any other necessary forms then return it to the other spouse by mail who then files the joint petition on their behalf after adding her signature. Two self-addressed stamped envelopes, one for each spouse, must be included with the petition.

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Does the State Your Marriage License Is in Matter to Get a Divorce?



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Divorce Laws in the Air Force

The divorce of a service member, whether in the Air Force or any other branch of the military, is handled in a civilian state court. A spouse filing for divorce must meet state residency requirements, and the division of assets and benefits between the couple also is handled in accordance with state law. However, there are several unique wrinkles governing the divorce of a military member, especially if he is deployed oversees.

Information on Getting Divorced While in the Marine Corps

Like civilians, Marines get divorced. But only civilian courts can grant divorce petitions, and the divorce process is generally the same for civilians and Marines. But the issues a Marine faces when divorcing can be more complicated than those in a civilian divorce, including finding the correct divorce court and figuring out what benefits the non-military spouse retains after the divorce. Both state and federal laws help sort these issues out.

How to File for Divorce From Jail

You can file for divorce from prison, but meeting the filing and appearance requirements is more difficult. You usually must start the divorce proceedings in the court that handles divorce cases in your spouse's county of residence. Talk to your spouse before filing, if possible. If you both agree to the divorce and its terms -- referred to as an uncontested divorce -- divorcing while you're in prison becomes much easier.

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