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Military Divorce in Virginia: The Basics

Any divorce can range from quite simple to extremely complex, but military divorces in Virginia are subject to a set of rules that make them a unique type of proceeding. Even basic issues like where to file and when may be slightly different when one or both spouses are members of the military. It’s important to work with an attorney that has experience working with military divorces, but some answers to your questions may help as a start.

Where must I initiate military divorce proceedings?

A court needs jurisdiction to handle a divorce case, which is typically determined by where the respective spouses live in civilian matters. There are three choices for military members and their spouses filing for divorce:

  1.    The state where the filing spouse lives;
  2.    The state where the service member is stationed; or,
  3.    The state where the military spouse claims legal residency.

When can I file for divorce?

In Virginia, a spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months before either member of the couple can file for divorce. Members of the military fulfill this requirement if they are stationed in Virginia for that same time period, even if living on a ship with a Virginia home port. If you or your spouse is currently stationed outside the US, it’s sufficient to show residency for six months before leaving the country.

However, keep in mind that, under federal law, there is another time period to consider when filing for divorce: Members of the US military cannot sue or be sued for divorce while on active duty, or for 60 days following.

What will be decided through the military divorce process?

A court will determine many of the same issues in a divorce case, whether the matter involves members of the military or not. The final divorce decree will address issues such as custody of minor children, spousal maintenance, and child support. However, there are different rules that apply to military pensions and benefits, which depend upon the duration of the marriage.

Consult with a Virginia Military Divorce Lawyer

Due to the meticulous rules that apply to divorces when one or both spouses have served our country, not just any lawyer will do to handle your military divorce. You need an attorney that has a specific background handling these types of matters so there are no mistakes during the process. The lawyers at Shannon & Bedois, P.C. are themselves, military spouses, so they bring experience and extensive knowledge to help you face these unique challenges. Please contact or call us at (757) 228-5529 with questions about military divorce in Virginia.

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