Written by attorney Anneshia Miller Grant

An Examination of Military Divorce in Virginia

Divorce law has special exemptions when it involves people who are in the military. In cases of military divorce, matters like alimony and child custody are examined in a different light to make sure that the proceedings won’t negatively affect an individual’s ability to continue to serve their country. Each state has its own laws when it comes to handling military divorce. For those in the state of Virginia, the laws pertaining to that area are explored in depth here.

Active Duty Protection

One of the big hurdles faced by military spouses is the chance that they might be served with divorce papers while deployed out of the country. In some states, that places the spouses in default for the case which may mean that they return home to find that they have been divorced without their knowledge. Virginia has laws set up to protect military personnel from this situation. If a service member is on active duty, then the proceedings can be postponed for up to 60 days. This gives ample time for all parties to be informed, which means that there won't be a scramble to handle the many complicated legal aspects of a military divorce case.

Serving Papers to a Military Spouse

For military divorce proceedings to begin, a spouse serving in the military needs to be served their paperwork in person. This can sometimes lead to a delay, especially if the spouse is currently deployed. The goal behind this law is to make sure that delicate matters like alimony and child custody are not rushed into but are rather tackled from all different angles. These Virginia laws are all focused on handling cases where there is something to be contested in the proceedings. In the case where a couple wants to be mutually divorced, the serving of papers can be avoided. In that case, the spouse who is serving in the military only needs to sign a waiver to inform the courts that the divorce is mutual and uncontested.

Who Qualifies for a Military Divorce?

In order to gain a military divorce in the state of Virginia, at least one of the spouses involved needs to be a current resident of Virginia or somebody in active service who is deployed to Virginia. There are certain other restrictions designed to protect the serving spouse as well. For example, a member of the military doesn't have to pay any retirement funds to the other spouse unless the marriage has lasted at least 10 years while the person in question was serving in the armed forces. Child support and alimony are also not allowed to exceed more than 60% of the military personnel's allotted pay. Aside from these guidelines, the typical laws of the state of Virginia apply.

Virginia residents are lucky enough to have a state that makes sure that military divorce proceedings are equal and fair to both parties. Most of the state's laws remain the same, but the exemptions above are designed to make sure that nobody can take advantage of a soldier's service status to gain leverage during proceedings.

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