Divorce, under any circumstance, remains one of the most difficult life events a person goes through. Whether the two parties continue to share a residence or decide to split marital assets, taking the step to sever ties legally takes a toll on many.

When one or both spouses serve in the U.S. military, the process for divorce diverges from that of two civilians. Explore some of the ways that a military divorce differs in Massachusetts.

The spouses’ residency matters

The divorce process begins with the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. One spouse files the petition and the other receives notice that the process has begun. Knowing where to file may trip up some military families, as relocation and separation are common in this line of work. Most states want you to live there for at least six months before filing for divorce. However, in a military divorce, the state where the enlisted spouse lives takes priority in deciding how the military pension divides. As such, it may benefit both spouses to understand the rules regarding this aspect of a divorce before filing.

The timeline changes

Service members may receive orders to move or get sent to active duty at any time. When divorcing, the- timelines that usually dictate when certain benchmarks occur may conflict with the service member’s availability. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a member of the military may request a stay or pause in the proceedings until he or she can return to deal with things properly.

The branch dictates child support

Child support tends to become a topic that comes between many divorcing couples. In the case of an active service member, however, military regulations may dictate the amount that he or she must pay in support. The Air Force is the only branch that does not have rules dictating the amount of child support.

Divorce in the military, while not impossible, takes a different approach and understanding. Seeking the counsel of someone well-versed in handling it may help the case move forward smoothly.