Determining Jurisdiction in Military Divorce and Family Law Cases

military divorce affecting family in the park

Military divorces are especially stressful for both parties creating emotional issues of separation of family and worry about the family’s well-being and also concerns about the military person’s health and safety.  It is not uncommon for military couples to have family issues develop that may eventually lead to a divorce when one or both spouses are serving in the military. Although counseling and other outreach programs are available, it just may come a time when one or both parties decide that divorce is the best option for them.

Jurisdiction to File Divorce When a Spouse is in the Military

The jurisdiction of where to file a divorce depends on where the parties are domiciled or stationed. So if one spouse is a permanent resident of New York, then the divorce proceedings matter could be filed in New York Family court. However, when neither party is domiciled in the state (NY), but the party who is in the military has been stationed in New York for 90 days, divorce proceedings can also be filed in New York.  The other alternative is if one spouse resides in another state, then that spouse can file divorce proceedings in the state of residency.You cannot file two separate divorce proceedings in two different states though.  Since divorce matters are complex, a New York family law attorney is the best person to discuss divorce and family law jurisdiction and other divorce issues with before filing for divorce to make sure that one party meets the jurisdictional requirements in New York, especially if you are in the military.

Military Bases in NY

There are five military bases in New York so if you are stationed in one of them for 90 days or more, you are eligible to file for divorce in New York. The following is a list of New York military bases:

  • Fort Drum in Jefferson. New York is a U.S. Military Reserve and home to the 10th Mountain Division.
  • Fort Hamilton is a U.S. historical army garrison located in Brooklyn, NY.
  • West Point Military Academy is located in the Southeastern side of NY.
  • Waterville Arsenal is located in Waterville, NY on one of the Hudson River banks.
  • Saratoga Springs Navy Base is located in Saratoga Springs, NY between the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains.

Keep in mind that if you are in the military, you have certain federal legal protections to stay or postpone a divorce or family law matter against you for 90 days until you have time to prepare. You will need to supply the court with a letter stating the reasons for the stay or postponement and when you will be available to attend court hearings or answer court documents. If you have a court order ordering you to pay child support, you must abide by the order to show cause why you are unable to by filing a written motion with the court.

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