Divorce can be complicated, confusing while overseas

Base Info

Divorce can be complicated, confusing while overseas

by: Capt. Kathryn Aeschbach | .
USAG Humphreys Legal Center | .
published: March 30, 2013

CAMP HUMPHREYS – Divorce is never an easy topic and can be a complicated and confusing subject. This is even truer when the person is not in the United States and makes the decision that they no longer want to be married.

The first question to answer is whether or not you and your spouse are in Korea together on command sponsorship. If your spouse is here in Korea, you both should discuss whether or not simply sending your spouse home until you return to the United States will help resolve the conflict. If once you return home and you or your spouse still want a divorce, you can address the issue at that time. It is much easier for a service member to wait to file for divorce until they return to the States so that they can effectively participate in any court hearing regarding the divorce.

If your spouse is already back in the States and either you or they want to file for divorce, then the question becomes where to file. You file for divorce in the state of residence of either the plaintiff (the person filing for divorce) or the respondent (the person being served the papers). Your state of residence is usually (but not always) the state you last lived in for more than six months prior to coming to Korea, or the state your spouse last lived in for more than six months. Speaking to an attorney at the Consolidated Legal Center can help clarify which state is appropriate to file for divorce.

If children or property are involved, your divorce may be more complicated and you may want to seriously think about hiring an attorney who is licensed in your state. Several states require you to be separated from your spouse for six months to a year before they will even permit you to file. Many states have information available on how to file for divorce without needing to hire an attorney, but we still highly encourage you to come and speak with one of the attorneys in the Legal Center prior to filing or responding to anything.

What happens if you are here in Korea and your spouse has filed for divorce? If you are served divorce papers while in Korea, it would be wise to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your options. It is important to remember that under the Service Member Civil Relief Act of 2013 (SCRA), if a service member is unable to attend a civil judicial proceeding (such as a divorce proceeding) due to their military service, such civil judicial proceeding may be put on hold until the service member can attend. In the alternative, if the judge allows it, you may be permitted to appear by phone or by video conference.

Anyone with questions about filing for divorce or responding to a divorce summons should contact the Legal Center. Service members can either call 753-6245 or they can visit in person during operational hours. The Legal Center is located in Bldg. 734 and is open Monday-Wednesday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, from 1-5 p.m.; and Friday, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The office is closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch and is also closed for Federal and USFK holidays.

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