The Ten Commandments of Military Divorce

1. Thou Shalt Obtain Personal Jurisdiction.
Assuming that dissolution subject-matter jurisdiction exists, it still is necessary to personally serve the active-duty member with a summons and petition for dissolution of marriage to obtain jurisdiction. If the respondent is overseas or deployed, service can be extraordinarily difficult. It is not possible to compel military authority to serve the summons and petition on an active-duty member. It is possible to request that military authority serve the active-duty member, but service is allowed only with that consent. If the member will not consent, one solution is to have the court appoint a process server as an officer of the court to serve the papers. However, service aboard any ship or shore installation must be done in accord with military regulations. In addition, service in the territorial jurisdiction of many foreign nations may be regulated by the Hague Convention. With some Hague Convention signatory countries, it is possible and preferable to serve the summons and petition abroad by mailing the documents to the “Central Authority,” who will then accomplish service in accordance with the law of that jurisdiction.

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