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Planning For Victory: Key Point to Consider in a Military Divorce in Virginia

June 11, 2024

Divorce is a challenging process for any couple, but when one or both spouses are members of the military, additional factors must be considered. If you or your spouse are in the military and are considering divorce in Virginia, keep the following points in mind:

1. Jurisdiction: For a Virginia court to have jurisdiction over your divorce, you or your spouse must be a resident of Virginia or stationed in Virginia for at least six months before filing. If you are stationed overseas, you may still be able to file in Virginia if you maintain your legal residence there.

2. Serving divorce papers: If your spouse is actively serving in the military, the divorce process may be delayed due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which protects active duty service members from default judgments in civil actions, including divorce.

3. Division of military benefits: Military pensions and other benefits are subject to division in a divorce. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), a former spouse may be entitled to a portion of the service member’s military retirement pay if they were married for at least 10 years during the member’s active duty service.

4. Child custody and visitation: When one or both parents are in the military, child custody and visitation arrangements can be more complex. Virginia courts will consider the best interests of the child when making custody decisions, taking into account factors such as the service member’s deployment schedule and the stability of the child’s living arrangements.

5. Spousal support: In Virginia, spousal support (alimony) may be awarded based on factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning potential, and the standard of living established during the marriage. Military benefits and allowances may be considered when determining spousal support.

6. Separation requirements: Virginia law allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorces. For a no-fault divorce, you must be separated for at least one year (or six months if you have no minor children and have a separation agreement in place). However, if a service member is deployed, this separation period may be extended.

7. Alternative Dispute Resolution: Military couples may benefit from alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, which can help reduce conflict and reach agreements on issues like property division, spousal support, and child custody. Also, alternative dispute resolution can be much less expensive as compared to trial.  

When navigating a military divorce in Virginia, it’s essential to work with an attorney who has experience handling military divorce cases and understands the unique challenges and regulations involved. This expertise can help ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

Contact an experienced Virginia family law attorney

If you need assistance starting a divorce case, the attorneys at Bourdon & Tortolero can help. We have the skills and experience to guide you through the entire process.  Learn more by contacting or calling us at 703-440-7820 today.

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