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What is the Difference in a Military Service Member’s Home of Record and a Domicile?

 Military Service Member’s Home of Record and Domicile

A military member will have a home of record and a domicile, or state of legal residence. The service member’s home of record is not necessarily where they are from though.  Consider the person who lived in Oklahoma but went to college in Texas. If that person joined the military while in college their home of record would be Texas. Unless the information was entered incorrectly, this person’s home of record will never change. The military will use the home of record for certain travel allowances.  Military spouses do not have a home of record.  

The military service member also has a domicile. That is the state where the service member thinks of as home. It is the state where the member intends to live or return to when he/she leaves the military. The domicile may change throughout a person’s life. But a person can’t just pick any state to claim as their domicile state.  And a person can have only one domicile state at a time. First there has to be intent. Intent can be shown by various ways. A person will obtain a driver’s license in the domicile state, register their vehicle(s), register to vote, actually vote in the state, and pay state taxes if applicable in the domicile state. There may be other actions to show that the state a person claims as their domicile state.   

A service member may retain the domicile state even if they are stationed in another state. This can be tricky though. A person must be careful to not take actions that would imply that they are intending to change their domicile state. For instance if a person gets a driver’s license in a different state, registers their vehicle(s) in the state they are stationed in, or claims a homestead exemption on a property would show intent to change their domicile state to the state where they are currently stationed.

In the past, the spouse of an active military member had to change their domicile every time the active duty member was stationed in a new state. The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act of 2009, has given the spouse the right to maintain their state of legal residence as long as it is the same as the active duty spouse and as long as the spouse is living with the active duty military member as a result of military orders. You can find out more about the military life at www.military.com .

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