Every divorce can be complicated. However, if one or both spouses are members of the United States military, unique laws and complications will apply. While military couples must make the decisions regarding child custody, child support, property division, and alimony as civilian couples, there are specialized procedures and rules that must be followed in military divorces. For this reason, you should always seek representation from a Virginia family law attorney with extensive experience handling military divorces.
Some unique issues in military divorces include the following:
- Service may be difficult. Divorce papers, like any other court matter, must be personally served. Because a military spouse may be overseas, in a confidential location, or even on a ship, service can be challenging.
- The divorce may take longer. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects active military members from being sued while on active duty by allowing them to postpone court proceedings. Divorce is no different, so an active military spouse may be able to put proceedings off for a period of time following the end of active duty.
- There is a cap on child and spousal support. A servicemember will not be required to pay more than 60 percent of their wages in child support and alimony.
- Civilian spouses may still receive military benefits. In situations in which the marriage, military service, or both have lasted for 20 years or more, the military spouse may qualify to continue receiving benefits.
- Retirement benefits may be allocated differently. While state law applies to divorces in Virginia, federal law determines a civilian spouse’s entitlement to military pensions under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA).
- There may be jurisdictional complications. If a military member is stationed in one state, but holds a permanent residence in another, deciding where to file a divorce may be more complicated.
Divorce attorney Raymond B. Benzinger has significant experience handling military divorces and can let you know which of the above complications may apply to your particular case. If you or your spouse is a member of any branch of the United States military, do not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Raymond Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 to set up an initial consultation.