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 10/10/10 or 20/20/20 rule. This rule requires at least ten years of marriage during which the military spouse performed at least ten years of creditable military service and those 10 years overlapped the 10 years of marriage.
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.
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.
A Washington Divorce Lawyer With Military Divorce Experience.
At Purcell Law, we 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.