Special Considerations in Military Divorces
When members of the military go through a divorce or face other family law issues, they — and their families — have unique needs that civilians do not face. We understand that the missions of military service members carry stresses and challenges unknown to most of civilian society.
From our offices in northern Virginia, the family law attorneys at Hale Ball frequently represent military members of all branches of the Armed Forces ranging in rank from General to enlisted and we also represent military spouses in divorce proceedings. We have a significant understanding of how to best structure agreements and orders in military divorces and family disputes, and we are proud to count former military members among the law firm’s team of lawyers, including a retired Judge Advocate General (JAG).
Division of Retirement and Health Care Benefits
As in a civilian divorce, the marital assets and debts must be divided between spouses in a military divorce. However, special federal laws and regulations apply in cases involving military members. Hiring a divorce or family law attorney who has no experience applying the regulations specific to military divorces means running the risk of accepting a marital property settlement that does not protect your interests. We understand the relevant federal laws and regulations that apply to the division of military benefits such as:
- Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA)
- Servicemember Civil Relief Act
For example, a nonmilitary spouse may have the right to a proportional share of the military member’s pension. Depending on the length of the marriage, the nonmilitary spouse may be able to receive pension payments directly from the Department of Defense – Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Otherwise, the nonmilitary spouse will have to arrange for pension payments from the former spouse.
In addition to pension issues, we can assist with:
- The division of retirement under the 10-10 rule
- Issues affecting deployed parents and serving military personnel
- Support issues and virtual visitation of children
- Residency issues in military divorces
The 20-20-20 Rule: Eligibility for continuing health care coverage depends on the length of the marriage and the length of military service. A spouse in a marriage that lasted more than 20 years and overlapped completely with 20 years of military service will be automatically eligible for continuing health care coverage for the remainder of the nonmilitary member’s life and the lives of any minor children. If you do not meet the 20-20-20 rule, you may still apply for a continuation of health care benefits for a certain period of time.
Other Important Considerations
When our attorneys handle divorces involving military members, whether our client is a military member or a nonmilitary spouse, we are sensitive to other unique issues faced by service members and their families.
We work to develop creative and acceptable child custody and visitation plans for parents who travel or are frequently reassigned, to provide support for the relationship between the parent and the child.
In divorce cases where one spouse claims fault — for example, adultery or substance abuse — we act as careful and protective advocates and negotiators. A claim of fault or adultery in a divorce can adversely affect a military member’s career. In such cases, where we represent the military member, we work to negotiate an acceptable — and private — resolution so that the military member may retain his or her good standing. However, in the event negotiation fails, our attorneys will use their experience in the courtroom to fight for our clients.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Attorney
If you have a question, we encourage you to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our Northern Virginia lawyers. To make an appointment call us at the above telephone number 1-703-591-4900 or use the contact form below.
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.
The transmission and receipt of information contained on this website, in whole or in part, or communication with the Hale Ball via the Internet or e-mail through this website does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between this firm and any recipient.
10511 Judicial Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030