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Special rules apply to military divorces in Colorado

A significant number of Colorado residents are currently serving in the U.S. Military and deployed across the nation and around the world. Colorado is also home to several military bases and installations. When military personnel get divorced, there are some special considerations that have to be taken into account. While civilian divorces are governed exclusively by state law, military divorces are governed by a combination of state and federal laws.

Residency is an important issue in any divorce but can be complicated in a military divorce. A Service member who files for divorce can do so either in their state of legal residence or their spouse's state of legal residence. In general, being stationed in Colorado in and of itself will not be sufficient to establish legal residence for divorce.

Commencing a divorce action by or against a Service member is subject to the federal Service Members Civil Relief Act. The SMCRA provides that no service member can be sued in any civil case, including a divorce, while they are serving on active duty or for a period of 60 days after their active duty ends.

Military retirement benefits are divided according to state property division laws. This means that in a military divorce in Colorado, the benefits are divided according to our state rules of equitable distribution. If the couple was married for at least ten years and that ten years coincided with ten years of military service, the payments to the ex-spouse will be made directly to that spouse by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Source: Findlaw, "Military Divorce," accessed March 3, 2015

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