Jurisdiction & State Law

Divorce for military members is still handled in local civilian courts, even if you live on a military installation. State laws control all aspects of the divorce of a service member, unless a specific federal law or regulation requires otherwise. State laws determine parenting plans, custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and property and debt division.

jurisdiction and state law

Do I get divorced in military court?

Military lawyers (JAG Corps) may advise service members in legal matters, but will not represent service members in a divorce. They can help with matters like an emergency revocation of a Power of Attorney.  JAG officers can also notarize separation agreements that outline agreed division of assets between two parties and they can provide advice.  They cannot be your legal representative in a public courtroom.  If you contact your JAG office they can tell you what assistance they can provide for your situation.  Private legal counsel must be retained if you decide to use a lawyer.

As a member of the armed forces, you have rights and responsibilities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While there are other issues in life you may resolve through the military court system, divorce won’t be one of them.

Where can I get divorced?

In order for a court to hear a case, it must have jurisdiction. This means that the court has authority over the parties in the matter and the power to decide issues in the case. In many divorce cases, jurisdiction is established by one of the parties being a resident of the state.

Some states, such as Washington, have an exception for service members stationed on military bases within the state. If you or your spouse is a service member stationed in Washington, your divorce can be heard in Washington family court.

Jurisdiction is an important legal component to filing for divorce.  If you have children and your spouse decides to leave Washington and take them, and you’re not ok with that, you should file immediately.  Every day that your kids are not here is a day closer to Washington courts losing jurisdiction over them.  The same is true if you are deployed.  An attorney can file for you while you are out of the country to keep the divorce in Washington.

To summarize, your divorce can be heard in Washington if either party in the case is one of the following:

  • A resident of Washington
  • A service member stationed in Washington
  • Married to someone who is a resident of Washington

Do I get divorced in military court?

Military lawyers (JAG Corps) may advise service members in legal matters, but will not represent service members in a divorce. They can help with matters like an emergency revocation of a Power of Attorney.  JAG officers can also notarize separation agreements that outline agreed division of assets between two parties and they can provide advice.  They cannot be your legal representative in a public courtroom.  If you contact your JAG office they can tell you what assistance they can provide for your situation.  Private legal counsel must be retained if you decide to use a lawyer.

As a member of the armed forces, you have rights and responsibilities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While there are other issues in life you may resolve through the military court system, divorce won’t be one of them.

WHERE CAN I GET DIVORCED?

In order for a court to hear a case, it must have jurisdiction. This means that the court has authority over the parties in the matter and the power to decide issues in the case. In many divorce cases, jurisdiction is established by one of the parties being a resident of the state.

Some states, such as Washington, have an exception for service members stationed on military bases within the state. If you or your spouse is a service member stationed in Washington, your divorce can be heard in Washington family court.

Jurisdiction is an important legal component to filing for divorce. If you have children and your spouse decides to leave Washington and take them, and you’re not ok with that, you should file immediately. Every day that your kids are not here is a day closer to Washington courts losing jurisdiction over them. The same is true if you are deployed. An attorney can file for you while you are out of the country to keep the divorce in Washington.

To summarize, your divorce can be heard in Washington if either party in the case is one of the following:

  • A resident of Washington
  • A service member stationed in Washington
  • Married to someone who is a resident of Washington

Should I Get Divorced in Washington?

As a member of the armed services, you may have a choice regarding where you file for divorce. If you have that opportunity, Washington State law offers many benefits you should consider. Unlike other states, child support is calculated based on a set formula using both parents’ incomes. Washington law does not default child custody to mothers. There is also a unique law allowing members of the military to assign their visitation time to another person while they are deployed.

Get Real Help Today

Divorce Lawyers For Military™ attorneys advise and assist military members and dependents going through divorce. We will help you understand how both Washington State and federal law applies to your divorce. You served your country and kept America safe. We are proud to stand by you in court. Call us today at (877) 866-7393 to speak with an attorney who understands the needs of military families.

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