Because military service members often relocate several times during their service, it can be difficult to choose the correct state to file a divorce. In Wisconsin, for example, a spouse must live in Wisconsin for six months, and in the county of filing for at 30 days, or Wisconsin does not have the authority to grant the divorce. Another layer or jurisdiction is the residence of the children. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) requires the divorce to be filed in the child’s “home state,” meaning the state where the child has lived for at least six months prior to filing. If the service member is stationed in one place for a length of time, there is not much of a problem. But for service members stationed overseas, or who are relocated often pursuant to orders, picking the correct state can be a difficult question.
First, service members all have a “home of record” with the military, even if it is not the place of residence at a given time. Even if the service member relocates often, this document can be used to claim legal residence. This is particularly true if the service member has not been in any one place for at least six months. Second, the service member should discuss other evidence of residence with his/her lawyer. This evidence can include property leases, drivers license, mailing addresses, location of accounts, state of tax return filing, etc. Third, it is also vital to ensure that the state has personal jurisdiction over the spouse.
Choosing the proper state can have serious consequences for a Wisconsin military divorce. It is often a very complicated question that should be carefully discussed with a lawyer experienced in military divorce issues. The lawyers at Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC have handled a large number of Wisconsin military divorce cases and are happy to consult with any service member.