Service Members’ Exes Are Not Alone in a Tennessee Military Divorce

Tennessee military divorce issues include Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard concerning service members stationed at the Naval Support Facility Mid-South near Millington, Tennessee, Fort Campbell, an army base that straddles the Tennessee and Kentucky border and their families living in the Memphis, Germantown, Collierville, and Bartlett areas.

Service Members’ Exes Are Not Alone in a Tennessee Military Divorce

Service Members’ Exes Are Not Alone in Tennessee Military Divorce

Service Members’ Exes Are Not Alone in Tennessee Military Divorce

Certain elements of military life come into play when it comes to divorce between a member of the military and a civilian spouse. A soldier or sailor—any member of the military—who initiates divorce proceedings voluntarily puts himself or herself under the jurisdiction of the courts where the divorce is filed, but if the nonmilitary spouse initiates divorce proceedings, it can get complicated. The service member may be on active duty, at sea, out of the country (local or national laws can come into play here), and so on, making it potentially difficult for the one to serve papers on him or her. A divorce attorney well-versed may lessen the guesswork that could be involved in this problem.

Another potentially complicating factor is that even if a service member is stationed at a base in the United States, some commanding officers are reluctant to play the role of process server. Lawyers in these cases have frequently sent divorce papers to a servicemember’s commanding officer, requesting that they be served on the servicemember. Though there is no law that says commanding officers can’t do this, many have refused, stating that they do not have the legal authority to do so. Military bases in the United States are under federal, not a particular state’s, jurisdiction, but can take the state’s rules for process serving into consideration.The different branches of the military can have differing procedures they follow when it comes to assisting in any way with the service of papers. Process servers may or may not be allowed on certain bases at various times, and this goes for serving papers to someone serving on board a ship. Local sheriffs, deputies, and process servers may or may not be allowed on base, and the military police on base may or may not help in these matters.

Matters will go a lot smoother if the service member is willing to accept the papers. Your lawyer can mail the papers to him or her at an on-base or off-base address with a request that he or she “accept” service. This is where a lawyer experienced in this area of the law can make matters proceed.

Memphis divorce lawyer Miles Mason, Sr., is familiar with military installations in Tennessee (such as the Naval Support Facility Mid-South near Millington, Tennessee, and Ft. Campbell, an army base that straddles the Tennessee/Kentucky border). He will be able to suggest ways to handle the situation when a service member’s current “address” is off-base, in another state or country, or even on a ship.

Another area in which Miles Mason, Sr., can help is when a member of the military invokes the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the latest version of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), which dates to 1940. The SCRA allows a member of the armed services to request a suspension of divorce proceedings for 90 days, a reflection of the possible difficulty a service member could have in responding to and preparing for divorce proceedings. At times, service members can ask for such a “suspension,” but if it’s simply to dodge his or her responsibilities, the courts may deny this.

Also, if an ex is stationed overseas (or may be in the future), this will have a definite impact on any parenting plans. In addition, military pensions and retirement plans have to be taken into consideration in a divorce settlement.

Help is available in all these situations. An attorney familiar with not only divorce law but also military regulations and practices can expedite the matter of serving papers. Keep in mind that the various branches of the armed services all have regulations and requirements for its members when it comes to their supporting their dependents and meeting all their financial obligations.

Take a look at the following web resources:

  • The Military Spouse Coach offers support strategies for the spouses of those in the military.
  • Military Significant Other and Spouse offers “information and support for all aspects of the military life, from basic and bootcamp to relocation and retirement.”
  • offers advice and information to spouses and families of members of the military.
  • ABA Homefront is the American Bar Association’s page of legal resources for military families, including a military pro-bono center.
  • MilitaryOneSource is a great source for support, information, policies, procedures, and articles for military families.
  • National Military Family Association helps sustain military families through educational scholarships, camps, family retreats, and information on benefits as well as information on divorce issues.

Divorce cases, especially such cases involving a member of the military, can be extremely fact-specific. It’s for this reason that nothing can take the place of discussing the matter with an attorney who is knowledgeable of civil and military rules and regulations involving divorce, separation, spousal support, and child support.

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Since 1995, as part of the American Bar Association Family Law Section’s Military Pro Bono Project, Miles Mason, Sr. has volunteered to serve as an attorney on the Operation Stand-By list, supporting military families by answering legal questions from members of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps from around the world on Tennessee family law and military divorce involving service members and their spouses.

Special thanks to Mark E. Sullivan, Esq., North Carolina attorney and author of the nation’s leading book on the subject, The Military Divorce Handbook: A Practical Guide to Representing Military Personnel and Their Families.  Also, thank you to Scott David Stewart, Esq., Arizona military divorce attorney, and Charles Hofheimer, Virgina divorce attorney and author of What Every Virginia Military Wife Needs to Know About Divorce.

For more information about divorce planning, download our free e-Book, Your First Steps: 7 Steps Planning Your Tennessee Divorce or, purchase The Tennessee Divorce Client’s Handbook: What Every Divorcing Spouse Needs to Know, available on Amazon and KindleMemphis divorce attorney, Miles Mason, Sr., practices family law exclusively and is founder of the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC.  To schedule your confidential consultation, call us today at (901) 683-1850.

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