Pursuing a divorce is one of the most life-changing decisions a couple can make. The consequences linger for a lifetime…
Northern Virginia Military Divorce Lawyers
While divorce is a difficult process, it can be even more complicated when one or both spouses are active military members. State-specific laws determine in which state you must file for divorce, the division of assets, and regulate what military benefits the non-military spouse can retain.
Graham Law Firm specializes in military divorce, providing information, legal counsel, and support throughout each step of the process when filing for divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Military Divorce Process in Virginia Bringing a Divorce Suit
With military divorce, the suit for a dissolution of marriage must be brought in the state in which the military spouse’s domicile is registered. The state in which the divorce petition is filed is important because the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) says that the state where the military member resides is the only state with the authority to divide up the military pension in the instance of a divorce.
Therefore, filing paperwork in the court where you want to divide your marital assets is a crucial first step. This is why you should have a knowledgeable Graham Law Firm attorney at your side through the military divorce process.
In addition to Virginia being the residence of the military spouse, the spouse must have lived there for at least six months. The five grounds for divorce in Virginia are as follows:
- Adultery outside of marriage within the last 5 years
- Conviction of a felony within the last year
- Desertion and cruelty within the last year
- One year of separation if the couple has children under the age of 18
- Six months of separation if the couple does not have children or if their kids are older than 18
You can view the Virginia jurisdictions in which we practice law here.
Division of Military Assets
The division of financial assets in a military divorce can be a source of tension and confusion without the aid of a qualified attorney. It is vital that this equity be divided at the beginning of the divorce, as retroactive changes are not allowed on many of the following capital.
This retirement pay is considered property once a couple enters into divorce proceedings. One option is for the non-military spouse to receive 50% of the marital share of pension. The marital share begins with the wedding or start of military service, whichever happened later, and then ends on the day of separation or the date of divorce, depending on state.
If military pension division is resisted by the active military member, it can be seen as non-cooperation and other aspects of the divorce proceedings, like child support and visitation, can be taken away by the court.
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
The Survivor Benefit Plan created by the military allows for only one beneficiary, which means that upon divorce, the service member has a decision to make. The SBP can either go to the non-military spouse or it can be withheld for a potential future spouse.
SBP ensures that a non-military surviving spouse gets 55% of the military members’ base pay amount after their death. In court proceedings, a former spouse election form must be filed by the service member to ensure that the non-military member receives the benefits after their divorce.
The Thrift Savings Plan
This version of an IRA savings account is a form of military-based asset that also needs division in the instance of a divorce. The funds can either be divided upon divorce or given to one spouse in exchange for another asset, like the retention of a home.
Schedule a consultation to talk about your specific military divorce concerns.
Choosing Graham Law Firm for Military Divorce
Serving Northern Virginia’s divorce and family law needs, Graham Law Firm is experienced in military divorce and is here to help your family through this transition. Receiving awards for Best Law Firm in America, Best of Leesburg in Mediation, and Most Respected in the Commonwealth, Graham Law Firm embodies these recognitions by providing our expertise to our clients at a fair price. We look out for you.
Call us today at 703-687-6817 to speak to one of our legal experts about your military divorce proceedings.