I am a resident of California and my wife is a resident of Puerto Rico. We are both active duty military and stationed in Germany, but married in Virginia were we met. We would like to file for marriage dissolution but need help. I was told I can file in my state of residence and hire a lawyer to appear in court for me since I am unable to do so anytime soon. However the few that I have talked to said I need to find a lawyer with dual jurisdiction in both California and Virginia. Is this true or can I simply file in California since I am military?
You will want an attorney who practices in the state in which you intend to file. Dual bar admissions are NOT required.
READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
If you are a domiciliary of the state of California, you may file for divorce in California. There may be some issues with your particular situation, however.
1) Is this divorce amicable? Does your wife also wish to get divorced and generally proceed in an uncontested manner?
If not, you must consider whether California has personal jurisdiction over your spouse? i.e. has she ever lived in California or established minimum contacts with the state? If not, she may contest California's jurisdiction over the divorce and/or the ability to divide community property, etc.
2) Service of Process on your wife (if divorce is contested). Because you are stationed overseas and Germany is a signatory to the Hague convention, the host nation has strict laws regarding proper service of process. It may not be as simple as having a co-worker (over the age of 18) simply handing her the divorce petition and blank response forms.
If she agrees to accept service, I would recommend that she signs a document before a notary stating the she accepts service of process and does not require any "formal" or official service.
I highly recommend you consult with your base's legal assistance office for more information.
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