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Military Divorce in Maryland


Marriages of all kinds face unique stresses, perhaps none more than those involving military personnel. Extended separations, constant worry, and an uncertain future in terms of where couples may be stationed and when the next deployment will be, can excite tensions that many Americans simply cannot comprehend. To complicate matters, PTSD and other mental, emotional, and physical challenges often accompany soldiers when they return home. The strain on relationships, sadly, sometimes leads to divorce. Because of the unusual circumstances many service members are in, the laws surrounding military divorce are quite different from civil proceedings, and having a knowledgeable local attorney by your side is essential.

Active Duty Members 

If the divorce is uncontested, an active duty member can simply sign a waiver affidavit to indicate awareness of the divorce action, and that can get things started. However, if the military member contests the action, he or she must actually be served with a summons and any documents related to the divorce so that a court in this state will have jurisdiction, despite the location of the service man or woman. According to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, any such proceedings could be postponed while a service member is deployed, and for a couple of months beyond the actual deployment, as well.

Grounds for Absolute Divorce 

Military personnel and their spouses are under the same rules as non-military couples when it comes to grounds for divorce:

  • A no-fault divorce assigns no blame to either partner, and often requires a one-year separation prior to finalizing the divorce;
  • Mutual consent may be granted to couples who have no young children, and whose property and support issues are satisfactory to both parties;
  • Adultery is based on one partner’s extramarital sexual contact, and must be proven by the accusing spouse;
  • If one spouse leaves the other and their whereabouts are unknown, it may be considered desertion, or constructive desertion, depending on the circumstances;
  • Cruelty or vicious conduct that results in physical or emotional peril to one partner or to children, and that makes cohabitation risky, is grounds for divorce with no waiting period;
  • Criminal behavior resulting in 36 months in jail or one year of prison is grounds with no waiting period;
  • If one partner experiences institutionalization for at least three years and is diagnosed with a permanent mental condition, insanity may be grounds for divorce.

Military Pay 

The state of Maryland does have the power to divvy up military retirement pay under certain circumstances, nor to assign child support and/or alimony requirements as per U.S. Code 1408. In order for this to occur, the state must have jurisdiction over the case.


In order for Maryland to claim jurisdiction, one of the following must be true:

  1. The military individual is a state resident who is stationed somewhere within the state;
  2. The individual lives in Maryland when the divorce is decreed;
  3. An out-of-state military member grants the court’s jurisdiction by signing appropriate documentation or by appearing before the court.

Get Help with Your Military Divorce 

No divorce is easy. If military issues complicate yours, you need an experienced and diligent attorney. At the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, LLC, we pride ourselves in our dedication to fair and ethical legal representation. Contact our Baltimore office today for a confidential consultation.

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