Divorces involving members of the military can have their own set of unique challenges, especially due to the fact that military laws come into play, in addition to state laws.
If you or your spouse are active or retired military personnel, then there are certain procedures that must be followed in the event of a dissolution of marriage. The military divorce lawyers at Twyford Law Office can explain your legal rights and guide you through this process.
We offer trusted, reputable, and compassionate legal advice, rooted from our over 40 years of combined legal experience.
We treat clients like human beings and build a personal relationship with them in order to meet their goals and give them the results they deserve.
Contact us today and schedule a free consultation, by calling (509) 327-0777 or reaching us online.
Military Divorce Filing Requirements in Washington
In order to file for a divorce in the state of Washington, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of or stationed in the state. However, unlike many other states, there is no law requiring that a couple must have been Washington residents for a specific length of time.
Washington is a purely no-fault divorce state, meaning a spouse does not have to find legal fault in their partner when seeking a divorce. The only option for grounds when filing a petition for Dissolution of Marriage is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The party who is filing will also have to include a Summons, Confidential Information Form, and Vital Statistics Form. Copies of these forms must then be served to their spouse so they may have a chance to respond, which can be difficult when they are on active duty.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Owing to the fact that the other party must be given a chance to “answer,” the normal court time schedule and deadlines can change when waiting for an active member of the military’s response. This is established by the federal law, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which allows active-duty service members to request a “stay” (postpone the proceedings) of the divorce or other claims (spousal or child support, custody, military division, etc.) if their duties prevent them from participating in or responding to the court action. However, the “stay” can only delay proceedings until the military member’s duties no longer interfere with their participation. Initially, a granted “stay” is at least 90 days, then extensions may be allowed.
How is Property Divided?
When spouses cannot agree on how property should be divided, a Washington court will decide for them based on community property standards. Community property consists of any assets or debts acquired throughout a marriage and is owned by each spouse, equally, unless given as a gift or an inheritance to only one spouse. Assets may include real estate, vehicles, income, personal property, etc. However, there are aspects of a military divorce which can commonly cause issues, including:
Determining pension benefits for the non-military spouse;
Determining whether post-divorce benefits apply;
Determining tax consequences;
Calculation of child support and spousal support;
Deciphering the military spouse’s Leave and Earnings (LEP) statement, and
Evaluating the military spouse’s Thrift Savings Plan (a retirement savings and investment plan).
A military pension can be one of the most valuable assets when ending a long-term marriage. States are allowed by federal law to divide a military pension, treating it like any other marital asset. On the other hand, military disability pay, which includes compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, cannot be divided by the court.
Our Washington Military Divorce Attorneys Can Help
If you are in the military and need assistance or if you are married to someone in the military and are considering divorce, speak to our team at Twyford Law Office today. Our Spokane military divorce attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We are available 24/7; let us know how we might serve you, by calling (509) 327-0777 or filling out our online contact form.