Experienced Military Divorce Lawyers
Service members and their families experience the demands of military service
daily, and these demands can take their toll. For military couples facing
divorce, other unique challenges may exist. For example, military couples may
feel the strain of complex legal questions that civilians would not necessarily
face, such as:
- Where should I initiate a divorce action when my military spouse is on
an active duty assignment in a remote location?
- Can the divorce proceeding be delayed because I am stationed overseas?
- As a former military spouse, am I entitled to military retirement pay?
- Can I permanently lose custody of my child while deployed overseas?
Military divorce is not a legal term, but one coined to describe divorces
involving members of the Armed Forces. Both state and federal laws govern
military divorce, and the intricacies of these laws are twofold. On one
hand, the laws provide heightened protection, safeguarding military personnel.
On the other hand, the interplay of federal and state laws, coupled with
standard family law issues, makes it difficult to understand both the
rights and options of service members.
Dedicated Legal Representation for Military Family Law Issues
Military divorces often call for fact-intensive analysis and require dedicated
legal representation tailored to meet each client's unique needs.
Our military divorce attorneys have represented many military personnel
and their family members and are prepared with the skills and depth of
experience necessary to tackle the challenges military couples face.
Filing for Military Divorce
The law affords certain protections for military couples and caters to
their special needs and circumstances. Because service members are often
stationed in other states or countries, for instance, the residency and
filing requirements merit special consideration. State law determines
whether the court has jurisdiction (power) over the spouses in a divorce
to hear the case. Federal and state laws both affect whether the court
may divide the service member's military retirement. When deciding
where to file for divorce from a service member, considerations include
the state where the military member is currently stationed, the state
where the military member claims legal residency, and the state where
the non-military spouse resides. A military member's station in a
particular state or claim of residency in a particular state does not
automatically give the courts of that state power over the military member
or his/her military retirement benefits.
Delay of Divorce Proceedings for Active Duty Spouses
Military divorce laws protect military members from having final orders
entered against them by default. Federal and state laws protect military
members from default judgments if they fail to respond to a divorce action.
A service member may not be able to prevent temporary orders from being
entered due to their service member status. However, a service member
may delay the divorce proceedings as a result of their military membership.
Military Retirement Pay as Divisible Property
In the realm of military law, military retirement pay is treated as divisible
property in the state of Washington. Former spouses of military personnel
may receive up to fifty percent of the service member's disposable
retirement pay as a direct payment from the federal government if awarded
that amount in their divorce case. There are guidelines for these direct
payments, which include the 10/10 rule. This rule requires at least ten
years of marriage during which the military spouse performed at least
ten years of creditable military service.
Proven Representation in Military Child Custody Cases
Often contentious and emotionally daunting,
child custody disputes can be even more overwhelming in the context of military divorce.
Military parents facing deployment may fear that their absence could result
in the permanent loss of their custody rights. Prior to 2009, when a military
member "fail[ed] to exercise residential time for an extended period"
this may have created problems in child custody determination.
The state of Washington has passed a law that makes it easier for military
members to assert and maintain their parental rights. Perhaps the most
notable provision of this law is that it allows deployed military personnel
to delegate their residential time with their child to a family member
of their choice.
If a military parent cannot spend as much time with their child due to
deployment or other military-related absence, this cannot be used against
them in a child custody case. Additionally, this law created a procedure
for military parents to regain custody after they return from deployment.
Meet with a Washington Military Divorce Lawyer
Our military divorce lawyers are equipped with specialized knowledge and
skills, work with service members from all branches of the military, and
are prepared to guide you through this complex area of law. If you would
like to discuss your options for military divorce and other family law
issues, we invite you to contact our office to request a consultation.