Government Employees

Domicile is the place where one has his/her true, fixed, permanent home, and principal establishment, and to which, whenever s/he is absent, s/he has the intention of returning, and where s/he exercises his political rights[i].

A change of residence, to enable a person to perform the duties of a civil office, whether elective or appointive, does not of itself constitute a change of domicile[ii].  Even though a person may be absent from his/her domicile for many years, and may return only at long intervals, nevertheless s/he retains his/her domicile if s/he does not acquire a domicile elsewhere[iii].

Similarly, the domicile of a serviceman is not affected by temporary assignments in the course of duty[iv].  Moreover, the fact that the family accompanies the serviceman does not affect the presumption of continuing domicile.  However, this presumption of retention of the domicile prior to enlistment is rebuttable through clear and unequivocal evidence.  The fact that one is on military duty does not preclude him/her from establishing his/her residence where s/he is stationed if the circumstances show an intent on his/her part to abandon his/her original domicile and adopt the new one.

In District of Columbia v. Murphy, 314 U.S. 441 (U.S. 1941), the court held that one who comes to a state to enter into government service and to live there for its duration does not thereby acquire a new domicile.  No distinction is made in this respect between elected and appointed officers.  Ambassadors, ministers, and consular officers generally do not gain or lose a domicil by their employment or duties.  The rule also applies to federal officeholders and employees in the District of Columbia.

Thus, one who goes somewhere and remains to render service to the government that requires his/her presence there may retain his/her domicile in the state from which s/he comes until the service terminates, unless s/he gives clear evidence of his/her intention to forego his/her state allegiance[v].

[i] In re Garneau, 127 F. 677 (7th Cir. Ill. 1904)

[ii] Gallagher v. Board of Elections, 219 Md. 192 (Md. 1959)

[iii] District of Columbia v. Murphy, 314 U.S. 441 (U.S. 1941)

[iv] Chico v. P.R. Elec. Power Auth., 312 F. Supp. 2d 153 (D.P.R. 2004)

[v] Rhodes v. Rhodes, 80 Cal. App. 2d 723 (Cal. App. 1947)


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