Locating a Service Member Spouse for a Military Divorce

Like civilians, a spouse who separates after marriage must be located, and here a military couple enjoys an advantage. A military spouse is probably easier to locate in many cases than a missing civilian spouse.

First of all, the spouse must know the Service Member's Social Security number. The Social Security number identifies him or her throughout the service. The other spouse probably knows it. If there is a problem with finding it, the number is often included on loan applications and is always on an income tax return.

A local Army recruiter is often able to track down service members. The recruiter who enlisted the spouse may know his or her location, or the recruiter may be able to find it without too much trouble.

A spouse who knows his or her partner's last assignment can try to track him or her. Each military base has an office called the base (or post, in the case of the Army) locator. It is the duty of this office to be able to locate a Service Member.

If the base locator office fails, the former commanding officer may know a spouse's new assignment. Base or post commanding officers are extremely busy, and finding the location of a spouse, while serious to a spouse seeking to end a marriage, is probably not the most serious issue facing the officer on any given day.

Suppose a woman cannot wait to use the base locator office to find her husband because she needs money for child support soon.

If there are children involved, the Federal Parent Locator Service will be able to assist a civilian who is up against time pressures. The Locator Service has the resources to track down absent fathers and mothers. In addition, all states now have public agencies that enforce child support orders for those who request assistance. These agencies are known as Title IV-D (pronounced "four dee") agencies, after the section of the law that added them.

The federal government, through the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984, requires states receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) funds - that is, all of them - to offer a parent-locator and child support service to all custodial parents, whether the custodial parents receive AFDC benefits or not. This means a spouse need not be on welfare to use the state's agency.



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Suggested Reading
Divorce & the Military II Divorce & the Military II
DIVORCE AND THE MILITARY II is the newly published comprehensive guide for military members (active duty, reserve/guard, and retired), spouses, and their attorneys, on the Uniformed Services Former SpousesŐ Protection Act (USFSPA). The USFSPA is the federal law that permits the award of military retired pay in a divorce.

Author: Marsha L. Thole and Frank W. Ault


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PROPERTY DIVISION -- The Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) allows state courts to treat disposable retired pay either as property solely of the military member or as property of the member and his spouse. The USFSPA authorizes direct payment of a portion of a military retirees pay to the former spouse and extends some base privileges to certain former spouses. Although up to 50% of a military member’s retired pay may be awarded, state law determines the exact division of the retired pay.
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