02.25.09

Burr, Feinstein Introduce Bill to Address Residency Rights for Military Spouses

Bill would help ease the burdens of military families when they are transferred

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) today introduced legislation that will allow military spouses to maintain or change residency when their family relocates due to military orders. The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act will provide spouses the same residency benefits afforded to our servicemembers. Representative John Carter (TX-31) introduced similar legislation in House of Representatives today as well.
"This bill will give military spouses the ability to keep or change residency regardless of where military orders send their family," Senator Burr said. "Our military families are often called on to make frequent relocations, which can be very disruptive to family life, and it is only fair that we give the same residency benefits to spouses as we do to servicemembers. This is just one small way we can help ease the burden of military families, who make sacrifices everyday to support our men and women in uniform and to keep our country safe."
"The families of Americans who volunteer for the Armed Forces make many sacrifices, including moving from state to state due to military orders," Senator Feinstein said. "Current law eases the burden of frequent moves, but does not extend the same residency privileges to spouses. For example, a military wife cannot retain joint ownership of the family vehicle in most states. So couples are forced to exclude spouses from ownership documents. And service members can vote while deployed overseas, but this right is not always extended to spouses. This legislation will change this. At a time when we are demanding so much of our military families, this bill will provide relief to military spouses, whose support at home is the bedrock of our military community."
Under current law, our military men and women have the ability to claim a state of residence and maintain that residency regardless of where military orders may send them. Unfortunately, military spouses are not granted this same benefit. In addition to the stress of looking for a job every few years, this inequality means that military spouses have to deal with the other headaches of moving. Moreover, spouses are also much less likely to have their names on deeds and titles of family property because of the implications of moving to another state, leaving many feeling like second class citizens.
The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act would give a military spouse who moves out of state because of military orders the same option to claim one state of domicile, regardless of where they move. If a spouse chooses to take advantage of this, the servicemember and the spouse must have the same state of residence. This bill makes the move from station to station easier, removing the need to update drivers' licenses, filing tax returns for multiple states, and changing vehicle and voter registrations with each move.