Military Family Law and Divorce in Washington State
Marriage and divorce are state court matters, but military personnel have special protections under federal law and special considerations regarding income, property, child custody, marital support and benefits. If one or both spouses are in the military, you need a divorce lawyer who is familiar with these complicating factors. For example, many service members do not realize they can file for and process a divorce while stationed overseas or deployed.
Clement Law Center is a Seattle/Tacoma family law practice with extensive experience in military divorce and custody cases. We represent members of the military and their civilian dependents throughout Washington State and beyond, including military personnel deployed around the world and those retired from the military. We offer discounted rates to military clients and dependents. Clement Law Center is often able to represent military clients while overseas or deployed, using phone conference and email.
Federal Way Military Divorce Attorney
Bruce Clement has practiced in divorce and family law for more than 30 years. He served 27 years in the Army Reserves, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in the JAG Corps. Whether through private consultation, litigation or out-of-court methods, he has helped hundreds of clients assert their rights, protect their interests and resolve the thorny legal, financial and logistical issues of military divorce:
- Divorce and deployment — The Service Members Civil Relief Act (formerly the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act) protects the rights of military personnel in divorce or custody matters while they are deployed for training or missions. The service member can sometimes delay proceedings until they return from deployment, or appoint a person to act on their behalf. The family court must grant a stay and continuance when military service prevents properly defending a court case, including divorces and custody battles.
- Military retirement benefits — Under Washington State law, spouses of military personnel have a community property interest in the marital estate, including military pensions. In most cases, a dependent spouse has a community property interest in the military spouse's pension. If the marriage lasted more than 10 years concurrent with 10 years of military service, the spouse can usually collect the retirement directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS).
- Child support — The courts normally consider all sources of a service member's income, including base pay, basic allowance for housing (BAH), basic allowance for subsistence (BAS), combat pay, flight pay, hazard duty pay, and sometimes reenlistment bonuses.
- Interstate and international custody — During and after divorce, military personnel face special challenges when custody matters cross state or international borders. Bruce Clement has handled complex and high-profile custody cases, including parental kidnappings from overseas duty stations.
- Parenting Plans — A military parent who does not have custody might be transferred to the other side of the country or deployed overseas. It is expensive to modify the custody order every time a service member is reassigned. We address this with a framework visitation agreement that sets out visitation schedules that make sense, whether within or outside the State of Washington. For example, if the military parent is stationed far away, the Parenting Plan might provide for less frequent but longer visitations. We also account for the unpredictability of military leave, allowing military parents to hop on a plane and have child visitation on short notice.
Clement Law Center will meticulously address these and many other issues specific to military divorce.
Seattle/Tacoma Military Attorney
We proudly represent members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard including officers and enlisted personnel of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
We provide a free, confidential initial consultation to discuss your concerns and options as a military member or as a civilian spouse. Call us at 888-351-6779 or 253-336-3607 to schedule your appointment, or contact us through this site.