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How do military members get a divorce in Virginia?

The large number of military installations in Virginia mean that military service men and women come into and out of the state often. Some of these service members have spouses that come with them. With the stress of normal military life, there is a chance that some of these marriages won't last. When a marriage falls apart while the military member is stationed in Virginia, the service member or their spouse might have some questions about getting a divorce.

What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?

A divorce ends a marriage. A legal separation acknowledges that the couple isn't together, but it doesn't end the marriage. In both cases, one spouse might be responsible for paying alimony or child support.

What is the residency requirement for military divorces in Virginia?

A service member or military spouse who wants to file for a divorce has to live in Virginia for at least the six months prior to the date of filing the petition. If either party is a resident of Virginia, they can file for a divorce.

What factors should I consider?

Virginia is an equitable distribution state for property. This means that property is divided according to what is fair, not what is even. All retirement pay can be divided, regardless of the time the couple is married. Alimony is also possible, but depends at least partly on which spouse is at fault for the marriage dissolving.

Getting a divorce is always difficult, but it seems much more difficult for members of the military. Knowing how Virginia laws affect military members can help you decide if you will file for divorce in the Commonwealth.

Source: JB Langley-Eustis Law Center, "Divorce and Separation in Virginia" Dec. 29, 2014

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