Ending your marriage can feel like the end of a journey, but also is just the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Going through a divorce is never easy for families, and this is no exception for military families.

There are some unique issues that come up during a military divorce. You may be able to make better decisions with fair outcomes if you are aware of the complex issues that may arise in a military divorce.

In what state should we file for divorce?

It is a no-brainer for nonmilitary couples to decide where they will file for a divorce. This decision is more complicated when one partner, or both, is in the military. So how do you decide where to file for divorce and does it matter where you choose?

Laws can vary from state to state and where you file can make a difference in how the divorce will proceed. Most states require you to live in the state for a certain period before you can file for divorce there. Some states require physical presence, but most consider military members who are absent from the state to remain legal residents.

The military member’s legal state of residence always has the power to divide the military pension in a divorce under federal law. The “Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act” also says that if you choose to file in a state that is not the military member’s state of legal residence, the court may not have the right to divide the pension. The military member can still consent to the pension division.

Child custody

Child custody can be complicated for anyone going through a divorce, and may be even more complicated for military families. Parties must use the same factors in decision-making as in an ordinary divorce. In other words, placing the children in the home that will serve their best interests.

Military families may consider possible deployments and reassignments during a custody arrangement. Military families are typically aware of the possibility of relocation and can include custody or visitation provisions in the event of deployment.

Service members and their spouses should become familiar with the legal issues they may encounter during a divorce. Unlike people outside of the military, you may encounter special concerns and may benefit by working with an attorney that specializes in your service needs.