Unique Challenges You May Face in Your Divorce If You Are in the Military

Military Couple Going Through a DivorceGetting divorced in Virginia can be complex if you and your spouse are filing a contested divorce where you must establish grounds for divorce. This is especially true if you file for divorce while your spouse or you are in the military. You may need to deal with unique challenges not found in civilian divorces.

Issues That You Need to Know About in a Military Divorce

The first major difference in a divorce involving a member of the Armed Forces is that the divorce may be delayed due to protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. It protects a servicemember from having a default judgment entered against them if they were not served with the divorce complaint and allows a judge to delay finalizing a divorce for 90 days or more.

In addition, child custody, child support, alimony, and property division must be agreed on by the spouses or decided by a judge in Virginia divorces. Here are specific issues that can arise in military divorces:

  • Property division. In all divorces in Virginia, marital property is to be divided equitably. In a military divorce, a substantial asset is the serviceperson’s pension. A military pension is considered property under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, which protects the non-military spouse’s right to a portion of it.
  • Child custody. When a parent is deployed, it can be more difficult for them to obtain custody of their children. However, a service member can ask for custody and that the children be allowed to stay with their parents or a sibling during times when they are stationed outside of Virginia.
  • Child support. A servicemember who is deployed will not be able to have visitation on a weekly basis or share in parenting duties as much as a civilian. Because of this, they could be ordered to pay more child support.
  • Alimony. Alimony is often an issue in a military divorce. The spouse of a servicemember may not have been working if they have had sole responsibility for taking care of the children or their spouse was frequently stationed at different military bases. They may be entitled to alimony at least for a period of time while they obtain additional education and job skills.

Are you considering filing for a military divorce? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable family law attorneys to discuss your options and how we can help protect your rights in your divorce.


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