Let’s take a minute to express our gratitude and appreciation for all those who step up to contribute to our democracy in both big and small ways, as every action counts in immeasurable ways. We dedicate Veteran’s Day once each year, to honor those who have served our country through military service.
It’s humbling to consider what we can also give to our country, but every action that embraces our civic duty to participate in our democracy is important. We can honor our active duty service members by doing our part to promote our democracy. Voting is the easiest part, and just going to the polls and waiting in line is your opportunity to see democracy in action. Serving on a jury is also an important civic duty that may take a few days of your time, but it is the best way to see how the judicial system works and also promotes our country’s values to be judged by a group of your peers.
Special Laws to Benefit Veterans and Active Duty Service Members
The law also honors military personnel and veterans in special ways. The Washington State Attorney General has a summary of those benefits that can be found online. Washington Law specifically prohibits discrimination against Veterans and Active Duty Service Members in employment, housing, credit, insurance and places of public accommodation. These laws are enforced by the Washington Human Rights Commission.
Veterans and Active Duty Service Members may also be entitled to tuition reduction or even a waiver of tuition at public colleges in Washington. While attending college, members of the National Guard or any reserve unit has the right to make up any classes or tests they missed while attending a temporary duty assignment.
As a tenant, Active Duty Service Members and Reservists have special rights to terminate lease agreements when their reassignment or deployment requires quick departure. Disabled veterans and surviving spouses may qualify for special tax relief programs.
Special Rights in Family Law Matters
Washington law (RCW 26.09.010) allows an Active Duty service member who is a party to a child custody or visitation matter, to request special accommodations, such as an expedited hearing or the right to present their testimony through an electronic source, such as Skype or Facetime, whenever their deployment will impair their ability to appear in person.
The law (RCW 26.09.260), also protects active duty service members when they receive orders to move and the distance will have a material effect on that parent's ability to exercise residential time or visitation rights with their children. In that case, when it’s in the child’s best interest, the court may award the military parent’s designated residential time or visitation rights to a family member with a close and substantial relationship to the child for the duration of the military parent's deployment or reassignment.
Also, deployment or out of area reassignment cannot be the sole basis for modifying a parenting order. The law (RCW 26.09.260), provides that the effect of a parent's military duties, by itself, does not constitute a substantial change of circumstances. Also, any missed residential time or visitation due to military service cannot be used to determine whether the parent has failed to exercise their parenting rights.
A federal law, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, also applies to most types of litigation, including family law matters. It protects active duty service members from default judgments, and mandates extensions of time for responses and hearings when the service members enters active duty. Not all rights are automatic, and must be requested. If you and/or your spouse are active duty service members, the lawyers at Molly B. Kenney law office will make sure that the rights of the active duty service member are fully explained and honored.