How Military Divorce Can Be Different From Civilian Divorces

Divorce isn't easy for anyone. There are all kinds of emotions involved and many important decisions that need to be made. How will the property be divided? Who will have custody of the children? Will someone need to pay alimony?

Military divorce involves all of those concerns, plus more, because there are specific laws and rules that apply directly to military divorces. When you decide to get a divorce in the Richmond area, it is important to understand military-specific situations that you may need to deal with:

  • Serving a deployed spouse with divorce papers may not be so easy. If your spouse is overseas and you want to serve him or her with divorce papers, it still needs to be done in person. Sometimes it will be possible to arrange for papers to be served by a military officer who is overseas with your spouse. Your attorney may be able to obtain help from the Virginia courts to have papers served. In some cases—for instance, if your spouse is aboard a ship at sea—it may not be possible to complete service until your spouse comes back home from deployment.
  • Support payments have limits. You can't ask for any random large amount of alimony or child support. There is a limit imposed by law: you cannot take more than 60 percent of a service member's wages.
  • Long-term spouses may be able to keep military benefits. This is also referred to as the 20/20/20 Rule. It benefits former spouses of service members if they were married for a certain amount of time. Former spouses are entitled to all military benefits if they were married to the service member for at least 20 years, that service member had at least 20 years of creditable service, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and military service.

There are other ways that military divorces can differ from civilian divorces, so it is important that you speak with an attorney who has experience with military divorces. Contact Smith Strong at 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg) for a confidential consultation about your case.

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg
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