You can file for divorce against an active duty military person; however, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act does come into play. What that means is, if the service member is unable to attend court hearings or if they are deployed in a place where they don’t have access to phones or to email where they would be able to communicate with the court or to get the appropriate documents, they can actually petition the court and get a stay of the proceedings, so basically push a hold button on the proceedings for a certain amount of time. They can’t do it forever, and when they’re on active duty, it doesn’t always mean that they can’t get to a phone. There’s only a certain amount of time that they can use the Act, but you can definitely still file for divorce. There just may be some other things that come into play. You want to talk to your attorney about it. If your spouse has an agreement, if you all are kind of in an agreement that you want to file for divorce, then I would always talk to the person first and kind of make a joint decision as to the timing, because if you know they’re going to be in a country or in a place where they don’t have access, I would wait to file the divorce papers until after they’re in a place where it would be easier for them to communicate with the court.
Ginger L. Dugan, a family lawyer at All Family Law Group in Tampa, Florida, has 10 years of experience in family law and handling complex cases.