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Lakewood Military Divorce

Legal Assistance For Your Lakewood Military Divorce

In Washington, military service has a significant impact on divorce, often presenting unique challenges compared to civilian divorces. Some of the most common ways military service influences Lakewood divorces include:

1. Deployment And Separation

Deployments and frequent relocations are common in military life. However, these separations can strain marriages, leading to an increased likelihood of divorce. The stress and strain of prolonged separation can create communication issues and emotional distance between spouses.

2. Heightened Emotional Toll

Military service can be emotionally demanding, exposing service members to traumatic experiences and causing mental health issues like PTSD. Consequently, these mental health challenges affect relationships and contribute to marital difficulties.

3. Intricate Financial Considerations

Divorces within the military context come with distinct economic factors, including the allocation of military retirement pay, housing stipends, and additional perks. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) is a federal statute that permits the classification of military retirement funds as jointly owned property that can be divided during divorce proceedings.

4. Legal Complexities

An understanding of both state domestic relations laws and federal military rules is often required in divorce cases involving military personnel. For example, the federal law Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) offers specific legal safeguards for those in active military service who are dealing with civil legal challenges such as divorce.

5. Child Custody And Support Challenges

Military service can complicate child custody and support arrangements, particularly when one parent is deployed or stationed far from the child's primary residence. Service members' frequent relocations may also affect visitation schedules and parental rights.

6. Healthcare Benefits

Eligibility for military healthcare benefits, including access to TRICARE, may be affected by a military divorce. The duration of the marriage and the service member's length of service both play a role in determining eligibility for continued healthcare coverage post-divorce.

7. Transition To Civilian Life

For service members transitioning out of the military, divorce can add additional stress during an already challenging period. Adjusting to civilian life, finding employment, and rebuilding social support networks can be more difficult while navigating divorce proceedings.

Military service can place unique strains on marriages, increasing the likelihood of divorce. However, many military couples can navigate these challenges and maintain successful relationships with proper support and resources.

Federal Laws Protecting Military Families During Divorce

Several federal laws protect military families during divorce and address various aspects of their legal rights and benefits. Here are some you need to be familiar with when facing a military divorce:

  • Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): The SCRA provides legal protections to active-duty service members facing civil legal actions, including divorce proceedings. It may allow service members to request a stay or postponement of court proceedings while they are on active duty and unable to participate effectively in the legal process.
  • Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA): The division of military retirement benefits in divorce cases is governed by the USFSPA. This law allows state courts to treat military pensions as marital property, which is subject to division in divorce settlements in Washington state. It also establishes procedures for directly paying a portion of the service member's retirement pay to the former spouse.
  • Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA): The MSRRA allows military spouses to maintain their residency in the state of their domicile for tax and voting purposes, even if they move due to military orders. It can be relevant in divorce cases where jurisdictional issues arise regarding which state has the authority to hear the divorce proceedings.
  • Family Support Orders For Members Of The Uniformed Services Act (FSOMUS): FAMOUS allows courts to issue income withholding orders for child support and alimony payments against service members' pay. It facilitates the enforcement of support obligations by ensuring timely and regular payments.
  • Former Spouses Protection Act (FSPA): Some former spouses of service members are granted continued access to military benefits, including healthcare benefits through TRICARE, commissary and exchange privileges, and access to military installations, under the FSPA.
  • Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS): While not a law itself, DEERS is a database maintained by the Department of Defense that determines eligibility for military benefits, including healthcare coverage through TRICARE. It is essential to ensure that eligible family members, including former spouses, continue to receive benefits after divorce.

These federal laws play critical roles in protecting the rights and benefits of military families during divorce proceedings and afterward. However, it's important to note that military divorce is still primarily governed by Washington state law, so these federal laws often interact with and supplement state divorce statutes and regulations.

What Does Washington State Law Say About Military Divorce?

Military divorces in Washington state navigate a mix of state and federal laws. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) provide specific regulations on this topic. To help you understand your rights, here are some essential elements of Washington state's military divorce laws:

  • Residency Requirements: Washington State has residency requirements for filing for divorce. Generally, either spouse must have been a state resident for at least 6 months before filing for divorce.
  • Division of Property: Washington adheres to the community property principle, where assets accumulated during the marriage are usually split 50/50 in the event of a divorce. This division applies irrespective of the title holder and encompasses property gained throughout the marital period. Under state legislation, military retirement pay and benefits can also be treated as marital assets, making them eligible for distribution.
  • Child Custody and Support: Washington State follows the principle of determining child custody based on the child's best interests. In divorce cases involving minor children, parenting plans outlining custody, visitation schedules, and decision-making responsibilities are required. As for child support calculations, they adhere to state-specific guidelines that consider the earnings of both parents.
  • Spousal Support: In Washington State, spousal support, also referred to as alimony or maintenance, can be granted based on various considerations, including marriage length, each spouse's financial situation, and their potential to earn. The court decides the support's quantity and period.
  • Protection Under Federal Laws: Military spouses in Washington state benefit from federal statutes like the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which offers specific protections to active-duty military personnel, such as delaying divorce proceedings while on active duty.
  • Healthcare Benefits: Ex-spouses of military personnel might qualify for ongoing healthcare benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), assuming they meet the established conditions.

If you are facing a military divorce, you must consult a qualified attorney familiar with Washington State law and federal laws to protect your rights.

Why You Need A Lakewood Attorney That Specializes In Military Divorce

Selecting our Lakewood lawyers with expertise in military divorce brings multiple benefits, thanks to their tailored understanding and proficiency in managing situations that concern military personnel and their relatives. Below are the key advantages of partnering with our legal team:

1. We Understand Military Culture And Lifestyle

Attorneys specializing in military divorce are familiar with the unique challenges that service members and their families face. They understand the demands of military service, including deployments, frequent relocations, and the associated stressors. As a result, they provide tailored legal advice and advocacy that considers the realities of military life.

2. We Have Extensive Knowledge Of Federal Laws And Regulations

Military divorces involve navigating state family law and federal laws and regulations that govern issues concerning the division of military pensions, deployment-related legal protections, and access to military benefits. Attorneys specializing in military divorce deeply understand these laws, including the SCRA and the USFSPA, and how they intersect with state law.

3. We Have Experience With Complex Legal Issues In Pierce County

Attorneys specializing in military divorce have experience navigating complex problems that often arise from military divorces, including jurisdictional, military benefits division, and support order enforcement issues. They provide effective representation to protect their client's rights and interests.

4. We Know The Military Resources And Support Services Available During Divorce

Military divorce attorneys leverage their connections with military support services and resources for their clients. They can help connect service members and their families with resources such as counseling services, legal assistance offices on military installations, and support groups for military spouses.

5. We Are Sensitive To The Unique Needs Of Military Families

The unique stresses of military life exacerbate the emotional distress military divorces cause. Lawyers experienced in such cases are aware of these proceedings’ delicate aspects and offer empathetic and encouraging advice to their clients during their legal journey.

Working with a Lakewood attorney specializing in military divorce can provide service members and their families with the expertise, advocacy, and support they need to navigate the complexities of divorce within the military context.

If you’re dealing with the complexities of a military divorce in Lakewood, Pierce County, our seasoned attorneys are here to guide you through this challenging process. We specialize in military divorce cases and provide dedicated support and expert legal representation tailored to your needs. Contact us for personalized assistance and allow us to secure your rights throughout the divorce proceedings.

Client Reviews
Laurie has worked on my very challenging and contentious divorce and I could not have asked for a better family law attorney. She was able to handle all of the twists and turns of my case with ease. I highly recommend Laurie to anyone looking for an excellent, ethical and hard working counselor. Chandler
Laurie is an incredible divorce lawyer! She did an amazing job with my divorce, and it was a real dog fight the whole way. She is a true fighter. And you can tell that she really cares about her family law clients and the results that she achieves for them. John
My lawyer guided me through a very challenging time in my life when I was going through my divorce. She worked hard and explained every step of the way what was going on so I could understand the process. I was very happy with her work. Barbel