Military Divorce in North Carolina

By Heather Frances J.D.

Military courts don’t issue divorces, so military members must get divorces from state courts like everyone else. Divorces filed in North Carolina courts are governed primarily by North Carolina laws, even when one or both spouses are in the military. However, some federal laws provide additional protection and guidance when military members are involved.

Grounds and Residency

North Carolina allows two grounds for divorce: separation for more than one year or incurable insanity for at least three years. Most North Carolina divorces are filed based on separation grounds. To file in this state, either you or your spouse must be domiciled in North Carolina for at least six months. Thus, if you are the military member, you must claim North Carolina as your domicile in order to file for divorce in the state, evidenced by such actions as paying North Carolina taxes. Most non-military spouses take on the domicile of the state where they live, so if your non-military spouse lives in North Carolina, you are likely able to file in this state based on her status as well.

Property Division

If you and your spouse can agree on how you want your property distributed, you can sign a settlement agreement to finalize your arrangement. If you cannot agree, the court will divide property according to North Carolina’s laws, which require equitable — though not necessarily equal — division. The court will consider various statutory factors before arriving at a decision, but there is no formula to predict exactly how much each spouse will receive. North Carolina law is unique in that you can get a divorce without deciding property issues. A North Carolina divorce decree just dissolves the marriage unless you ask the court to address property distribution during the divorce. As long as you preserve this issue by bringing it up during the divorce, the court’s hearings on these issues may take place after the divorce is final.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Retirement

Retirement pay is considered property divisible by North Carolina courts in your divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act, a federal law, specifically allows state courts to divide retirement pay. This act also determines which military benefits your non-military spouse gets to keep after your divorce. If you were married for at least 20 years, served for at least 20 years and had at least 20 years of overlap between your marriage and military service, your spouse is eligible to keep many of her benefits, including health care and commissary and exchange privileges.

Child Custody

Like property division issues, North Carolina courts determine child custody arrangements according to North Carolina laws. If you and your spouse cannot agree, your divorce court will use various factors to determine a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of your child. These factors typically include each parent’s relationship with the child, the child’s relationships with siblings and other family members, each parent’s character and each parent’s ability to support the child’s education. As a military member, you may want to address military-specific issues in your custody arrangement. For example, your custody order can address what happens when you deploy or are stationed overseas.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Georgia Divorce Laws for Military Personnel
 

References

Related articles

What Happens When You Are Served Divorce Papers?

Most people are not able to think clearly in the hours or even days after they receive divorce papers. Although the laws are slightly different from state to state, most courts understand this and give you time to respond. You don’t necessarily have to act immediately, but you must do something eventually if you’re going to protect your rights. No state forces a spouse to stay married just because her partner does not respond to her divorce petition -- she’ll just move forward with the proceedings and obtain her divorce without the spouse's participation.

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.

Divorce During Deployment

Getting divorced is complicated, but going through one while you or your spouse is on military deployment makes matters even more challenging. The military has its own laws regarding divorce. In addition, the federal government has created legal protections for members of the U.S. armed forces who are deployed -- in other words, away from the United States on military duty.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Disability in a Military Divorce

If a servicemember becomes disabled due to an injury related to his service, he may receive payments from the ...

How to File a Divorce in Your State of Residency While in the Military

Military members must get divorced in state civilian courts, and the basic divorce steps are similar whether the ...

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 ...

Military Divorce and Alimony

Military couples cannot get divorced by military courts, so they must get their divorces in state courts. Since divorce ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED