Divorce is complicated, emotionally, financially, and legally. As discussed in a previous post, it is even more complex when you are a member of the military. The military imposes a series of rules on its service members which are not always immediately apparent or intuitive. As discussed before, your residence in the military is not necessarily where you live.
Another issue unique to the military is serving papers on your ex-spouse. In divorce cases, you must "serve" or give the divorce papers to your spouse to begin the process of divorce. Serving is a formal way of alerting the other party that you are filing for divorce. If you are unable to serve the papers, the court will delay or even dismiss your divorce action.
But, as discussed previously, if you aren't a resident of the state in which you are stationed, how do you serve your ex-spouse? Which rules do you follow?
Military members and their spouses have three options:
- Serve papers where the filing spouse resides.
- Serve papers in the state where the service member is stationed.
- Serve papers in the state where the service member claims residency.
The state where you file for divorce is also the state where service of process rules apply. So you should consult with a divorce attorney before filing. You don't want to file for divorce in the wrong court and be forced to file the paperwork all over again somewhere else.
Filing and prosecuting a divorce is complicated. You are dealing with the end of a marriage which entails a whole host of emotional and financial issues. Don't risk your rights to your property and your right to custody over your children. A lawyer can help ensure that you conform to all of the rules to allow you the best shot at succeeding at trial.