Military divorce can be complicated, especially when it comes to matters involving children.
Due to changes in assignments and deployments, those serving in the military or married to service members travel frequently. When attempting to file for a divorce, it may be difficult to determine which court has jurisdiction over the divorce. The following information can help.
Jurisdiction is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as:
The power and authority constitutionally conferred upon (or constitutionally recognized as existing in) a court or judge to pronounce the sentence of the law, or to award remedies provided by law, upon a state of facts, proved or admitted, referred to the tribunal for decision, and authorized by law to be the subject of investigation or action by that tribunal, and in favor of or against persons (or a res) who present themselves, or who are brought, before the court in some manner sanctions by law as proper and sufficient.
In family law cases involving divorce, jurisdiction essentially refers to which court can hear the case and make a binding decision on property division, child custody, child support and other legal issues.
Jurisdiction determined for child custody and child support determinations
The American Bar Association, a national association of legal professionals, recently published an article discussing the various issues that can arise when navigating a military divorce. Within this publication, the group discussed jurisdiction. Ultimately, it found that jurisdiction over child custody issues are generally based on state law. The applicable state is generally the one that child habitually resides. This is determined by reviewing where the child has resided in the six months prior to the divorce filing.
Although discussions regarding child custody and child support often go together, it is important to note that there are differences regarding jurisdiction between these two legal issues. Child support issues are governed by state law as well, but it is not focused on where the child resides. Instead, child support issues are determined by the state the parent who is supposed to be paying the support resides. If the support parent is the service member and that member is currently overseas, the service member's state of residence applies.
It is also important to note that in cases where the service member's state of residence is New Jersey, military service activation can result in a modification of a child support order.
Military divorce and legal issues, an attorney can help
Unfortunately, jurisdiction is just one of the many legal issues that can arise when attempting to navigate a military divorce. As a result, it is wise for those considering or who have recently filed for a divorce to seek the counsel of an experienced New Jersey Divorce attorney. This legal professional will review the details of your unique situation and work to better ensure a more favorable outcome.