Petitioner is resident of California and the military member respondent is a resident of Vermont . Respondent Say's his acceptance is voluntary . His commander thinks otherwise .
Many believe that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act imposes additional requirements for service of civilian process. It does not - there is no federal law requiring that serving military personnel is any different than serving civilians.
Service off-post is solely governed by state law.
Service on-post depends upon whether the land is exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction:
You must contact a local attorney or obtain telephonic consultation from an attorney to discuss specifics of your situation and get full advise. The information given here is general in nature and does not establish attorney-client relationship.
Military Law Attorney
The Department of the Navy has procedures for service of personal process like this.
Your lawyer should review Paragraph 0616, Chapter VI, in the Manual of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy for the rules.
Here is a link to the JAGMAN.http://www.jag.navy.mil/library/instructions/JAGMAN2012.pdf
www.court-martial.com; www.court-martial.us.com; email@example.com 703-298-9562, 800-401-1583. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Military Law Attorney
Both of these lawyers are correct. Off post serve him as you would anyone else. On post follow the regulation cited by Mr. Cave. No one is required to voluntarily accept service.
No party can be forced to accept service, on base or off.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
One needs to have residency in order to file for divorce in California, i.e. have lived in CA the last 6 months and in the county of filing for the last 3 months. If you have established residency, you may file in CA. After you file, you will need to properly serve him the dissolution paperwork (and blank response forms). Personal service is always preferred by the courts and should be the appropriate method in this case.
If you wish to serve him off base, i.e. somewhere in Oceanside or San Clemente, etc., a process server is free to find your husband and serve him the paperwork. If your husband resides on base, the process server must call Camp Pendleton's Legal Services Support Section (LSSS) Civil Law Division at 760-725-6558 and request that your husband's Command make him available to be served. This way, the process server can come to a pre-arranged location and serve the Marine in the presence of the civil law officer. Acceptance of service of process is not voluntary. A CO can make him accept process on base.
Once your husband has been properly served, he has 30 days to file a response to the action. If he does not file a response, you may move the court for a default judgment. If your husband feels that CA does not have personal jurisdiction over him, he can retain private counsel and fight this matter with the court (he will lose). However, you need to ensure that CA is the best jurisdiction to file in for yourself!
Some things to consider: 1) Do you have kids? What are the kids' home state? UCCJEA is a federal law that dictates which state has jurisdiction over the kids for custody issues. 2) Are you going after a portion of your husband's military retirement? If so, In Re Marriage of Tucker may bar you from getting a portion of his retirement, if your husband states that he is a resident of VT and CA does not have jurisdiction over his military retirement.
Military divorces can be tricky. Best to consult with a family law attorney that is competent in this area before you make a wrong move. Most will offer you a free half-hour consultation.
Best of luck to you.