Everything about the military is about parallel systems. Soldiers have both their duty and their family. They answer to both federal and state legal systems. This applies to both military tribunals and state court systems. A service member can face trial in under both the Uniform Code and applicable federal and state statutes. This all adds up to a complicated quasi-relationship with the law that involves everything from divorce to child support. These overlapping laws create confusion among service members who may not realize which legal system they are dealing with. This article will discuss these overlapping laws and how they affect the military.
In order to file or be served with divorce papers, you must know if the court you are filing in has jurisdiction. Service members can be bound by multiple state jurisdictions. First of all, service members are bound by the jurisdiction of the state in which they enlisted. Additionally, each state that they are stationed in may permit service members to claim jurisdiction. This means that a service member could face divorce proceedings in two states on opposite sides of the country.
Once you determine if the court you are trying to file in has jurisdiction, the next step is figuring out which laws apply to you. State laws will typically handle matters of property division and spousal/child support, while federal law will determine pensions. But, the Uniform Code does impose additional obligations on service members regarding spousal and child support.
Divorce is a serious decision. If you are in the military there are special rules that you may not be aware of so you may want to speak to an attorney. The Uniform Code has strict rules for service members and failure to adhere to them, for example regarding child support, can result in disciplinary action. Don’t try to go through this process alone, you could accidentally run amok of an unknown state or federal law.