Divorce is never an easy option for anyone involved. If you or your spouse is a service member of the military and considering divorce, additional complications may arise. If you or anyone you know is contemplating a military divorce it is best to seek a lawyer well versed in this specific area. The experienced lawyers at our office understand the overlap of Virginia state law and federal law when obtaining a military divorce and can best assist you in navigating these waters.
What Is The Difference Between A Military Divorce and A Regular Divorce
While much of the process a military divorce mirrors a regular civilian divorce, there are unique differences. A military divorce exists when a spouse is a service member. A service member is anyone who is active duty military, reserve, guard, or retired military. Often service members have the ability to choose from different states when filing for divorce. In order to obtain a military divorce in Virginia, a service member must reside or be stationed in the state. Obtaining a military divorce in Virginia does not preclude you from established Virginia state laws on divorce, rather, it adds to their requirements. Some of the most important additions to consider are the federal laws created to protect military service members, which may delay the process of a divorce.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) May Postpone A Military Divorce
The purpose of The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is to provide an array of protections to those serving in the military by enacting civil relief, which suspends the enforcement of certain civil liabilities during the period of service. The SCRA was enacted so that the service member may focus on their work defending the nation without worrying about default judgments being made against them. The SCRA does not stop your divorce but it may provide a military service member additional time to respond. Therefore a military member on active duty may postpone the divorce under SCRA.
Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) May Affect Distribution of Property
Another federal law to be considered is The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). The USFSPA governs how a state court will distribute military retired pay and property to a former spouse. This federal act also provides for a process of spousal support and child support when appropriate by the state court. Thus the court alongside the USFSPA will read Virginia property laws. The USFSPA also serves as a mechanism for additional benefits, such as health care, for marriages that lasted 20 years or more.
Grounds For A Military Divorce in Virginia
The grounds for a military divorce in the state of Virginia are the same as the typical civilian divorce. In general, the grounds for filing for divorce in VA are adultery, felony conviction, cruelty, and voluntary separation for a specific amount of time.
Let Us Assist You Today
Whether you are filing for a military divorce with a service member overseas, understanding how federal law will affect your military divorce in Virginia, or attempting to understand how the military will affect your divorce, the lawyers at Shannon & Associates, P.C. are ready to assist you in navigating this process. Military divorce is different from civilian divorce; therefore, one must retain the services of attorneys well experienced in this unique area. When dealing with a military divorce do not hesitate to contact us or call today at (757) 228-5529.