The states of Washington and Oregon are home to a number of military bases whose families must contend with frequent deployments, family separations, and financial constraints. These challenges can weigh heavily on a family, often leading to a military divorce. If you or your spouse are a servicemember experiencing a marital breakup, it takes a skilled military divorce attorney to protect your interests.
At Human Alchemy, our family law practice is dedicated to guiding military families through difficult transitions. Because military divorces are governed by state, federal, administrative and military laws, you need the informed representation that our attorneys are uniquely prepared to provide. As a former military attorney in the Air Force, Leah draws on her experience as a servicemember to provide military families with strategic solutions to their most personal and pressing challenges. Genie Lyons understands your family’s concerns from a different perspective, having grown up all over the world as her family traveled with her father’s military career. When you become our client, you will have peace of mind knowing that your interests will be protected.
How Do I Start The Military Divorce Process?
It is important to note that military families may have multiple options as to where to file for a divorce.
- The state where the service member is stationed
- The state where servicemember claims legal residency (Home of Record)
- The state where the dependant or dual-military spouse resides
- The state where dependent or dual-military spouse claims legal residency
At the same time, for state courts to have jurisdiction to grant a military divorce, one of the spouses must meet the residency requirements. If you and your spouse have minor children of the marriage, then in most situations, you may only file for divorce in the county where the child(ren) have resided for the most recent 6-month period or longer. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) has exceptions to this rule, that our attorneys will help you navigate based on your situation. Moreover, both state law and federal laws apply to key issues such as spousal support, child custody, and child support.
Military Divorce Laws
Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), servicemembers on active duty (and up to 60 days thereafter) are protected from being held in default in a divorce proceeding. The SCRA is intended to protect members of the U.S. military from being taken advantage of while serving the nation. Additionally, special military rules apply to spousal support, child custody and child support, while federal law governs the division of certain marital assets (e.g military benefits and pensions). Given the overlap of state and federal law with military regulations, it is crucial to have the informed representation Human Alchemy provides.
Military Pensions and Benefits
Like a civilian divorce, a key issue to resolve in a military divorce is the division of marital property, including retirement pay. In this regard, military pensions are generally governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act, however, a portion of the pension benefits may be subject to applicable state rules if the court has jurisdiction.
In any event, if the duration of the marriage was at least 10 years which overlapped with 10 years of military service, the nonmember spouse’s share of the pension benefit is paid directly by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If the marriage lasted 10 years or less, however, the court may order a retiring servicemember to pay a former spouse directly.
In addition, a former spouse of a service member is eligible for continued military installation access and benefits to include medical insurance, military legal assistance, commissary, and military exchange shopping privileges, and use of morale welfare & recreation (MWR) services if the following conditions apply:
- The marriage has lasted at least 20 years
- The servicemember served for at least 20 years
- There was a 20-year overlap of the marriage and military service
All medical and other benefits terminate if the former spouse remarries, however. In any event, the complicated formula for determining the distribution of the marital portion of these assets makes having an experienced military divorce lawyer crucial.
Spousal Support, Child Support, and Child Custody in Military Divorce
The military regulations and requirements ensure that agreements and orders related to spousal support, child support, and child custody are followed. At the same time, state child support laws also apply. The key factors to consider are base pay, allowances, and special pay, as well as child custody and child support arrangements. When it comes to military families, frequent deployments invariably mean that a service member will not always be in a position to have regular visitation, while the non-military parent share of the childcare burdens will increase. Standardized parenting plans and court forms do not contemplate deployments, temporary duty assignments, and permanent changes of station. Your final divorce documents need to address all of the unique aspects of your military family. Ultimately, it takes a skilled military divorce attorney to protect your interests, your children, and your future.
Contact Our Vancouver Military Divorce Attorney
At Human Alchemy, we are dedicated to guiding military families through a wide range of family law disputes. We are keenly aware that a marital break up presents military families with unique challenges and those service members are held to higher standards than civilians. Given these exigencies, the best way to navigate a military divorce is by having the skilled attorneys of Human Alchemy by your side. Their in-depth experience as family law attorneys coupled with their personal experiences with the military makes them uniquely qualified to handle your divorce case. When you partner with our winning legal team, you will be well-prepared to get through this difficult time and move forward to a brighter tomorrow. Schedule your free phone consultation today or feel free to fill out the contact form.
Human Alchemy, PLLC helps military affiliated families in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington metro areas, and families of activated servicemembers whose Home of Record is Oregon or Washington State.