For years you were proud to support your spouse as they served in the military. You may have raised your children alone while your spouse was deployed for extended periods of time. You are correct if you feel that your sacrifices as a military dependent is another category of military service in support of our country. Now that your marriage is ending, what rights do you have and what can you do to rebuild your life?
Rights for Military Spouses
Divorce is a difficult process for everyone. It takes both an emotional and financial toll on your life. You are left with many questions about what to do and how to plan for the future. As a military spouse, you receive certain benefits from the military. Many issues need to be resolved such as whether or not you will be entitled to support during separation, whether you can stay in military housing, if any of your benefits will continue after divorce, including any right to a portion of the military retirement. You need assistance from a Washington divorce lawyer experienced in military divorce. You need a Divorce Lawyer For Military attorney to help you sort through the complicated business of military divorce.
Custody of Your Children
As a parent, your primary concern is the care and well-being of your children. If your spouse is active military, they may be deployed for long periods of time overseas and in active war zones. You have a compelling argument that the best interests of the children is served by you having full custody (called “residential placement” in Washington). The attorneys of Divorce Lawyers For Military will fight for the best interests of your children in court and will work tirelessly to help you achieve your goals in custody and visitation.
Military regulations require a service member to provide financial support to spouses and children upon separation. Especially if your spouse earns more money than you, they may be required to provide financial support in addition to the child support required by state law.
Full Military Benefits
If you have been married for twenty years or more of their military service, you are entitled to full continuing military health benefits, as well as continuing access to military commissary and exchanges.
If you obtain employer-provided health care, military health benefits cease. However, you will regain military health benefits if employer-provided health care ceases. Similarly, if you remarry, all the above-mentioned military benefits cease. However, if the you get divorced again, then you are once again entitled to full military benefits.
If you and your spouse separate but do not get divorced, you will continue to receive full married military benefits. You may also be entitled to additional financial support.
Temporary Military Benefits
If you have been married for twenty years, fifteen of which covered your spouse’s military service, you are entitled to health benefits for one year.
Retirement and Disability Benefits
Like civilian retirement plans, military retirement plans are considered community property in the state of Washington. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) allows for military retirement benefits to be divided as property during a divorce.
If you were married for ten or more years during your spouse’s military service, then you are entitled to receive any portion of the retirement benefits awarded to you in divorce directly from the government (DFAS).
It is important to understand that no matter what property division is decided during the divorce, you will not receive any portion of the retirement benefits until your former spouse actually retires.
Survivor Benefits Plan
Even after divorce, you can remain the beneficiary of your spouse’s Survivor Benefits Plan. As part of the division of property, it can be negotiated in the divorce to keep you as the beneficiary.
If a service member is court-martialed or administratively separated from service due to abuse, the service member’s spouse and family members can obtain temporary benefits and compensation, such as housing, health care, access to commissary and exchange facilities, and temporary financial support. The degree of benefits and support depends on the remaining service obligations of the offending service member. Qualifying offenses against a spouse or family members include assault, battery, rape, sexual assault, murder, and manslaughter.
Helping Military Spouses in Divorce
With years of experience in state divorce law and military regulations, the attorneys of Divorce Lawyers For Military are ready to guide you through the divorce process. We will help you understand the special challenges that face military spouses in divorce. We will aggressively protect your rights in court. Call us today to speak with an attorney who can help.
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