Serving divorce papers when a spouse is a service member

As the spouse of a service member, if you are preparing for a divorce in Michigan, you may wonder whether this might affect the marriage dissolution process. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., we assist people in all walks of life through this emotional time, taking care of the legal aspects so our clients can focus on the needs of their families.

The Michigan Guide to Military Family Law explains that one of the factors that may be different for you than for other civilians involves serving the divorce papers. If your spouse is housed off-post, then it would not be any different from serving a civilian with divorce papers. However, if your spouse lives on base, the process server may not be able to enter and serve the papers. This would not be an issue if you opt for service by mail. Not all states allow this, but Michigan Court Rules do make it possible.

If your spouse is in the Army, and the installation where he or she resides is under federal jurisdiction only, the commanding officer or supervisor has to give your spouse the choice to accept the service voluntarily, with the option obtain legal advice first. If your spouse decides not to accept service, you will receive notification that the state authorities were not able to serve the papers because of the exclusively federal jurisdiction. Marine Corps and Navy rules require that your spouse's commanding officer must provide consent, and may need to be present when the papers are served.

When a service member is stationed in a foreign country, the location and other factors may apply to your ability to have papers served. More information about issues affecting the divorce process is available on our webpage.


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