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D.C. Area Military Law Blog

Divorce in the military: Things you should know

You and your spouse have built a successful life in the military. One or both of you may be officers who earn substantial income and have been able to provide for your children's financial needs, perhaps even accruing savings for their college educations. Life as a military officer can be both rewarding and challenging. It is definitely not easy to balance the demands of career, marriage, parenting and family life in general, especially if your duties take you overseas.  

In some ways, military life is quite different from civilian life. Then again, being a military family doesn't guarantee that you will be unscathed by many of the problems that plague civilian marriages and families nowadays. If you or your spouse files for divorce, it is safe to assume that hundreds of other military and civilian families are currently navigating similar situations. There are several issues regarding divorce in the military of which you'll want to be aware.  

Property division questions during a military divorce answered

Whenever couples are facing divorce, they are likely prepared for a few challenges. While a military divorce is not unlike a civilian divorce in many respects, there are some differences unique to a military divorce that the family law process can help divorcing military couples with.

This blog recently discussed the property division process during a military divorce. Other issues divorcing military couples may face include deployment-related divorce issues; international custody arrangements; child custody and alimony; division of military retirement benefits; concerns related to military pension division orders; the treatment of military health care coverage; survivor benefits and life insurance; Thrift Savings Plan contributions; basic allowance for housing (BAH) and basic allowance for subsistence (BAS); and the use of military facilities.

Property division questions during a military divorce answered

Divorcing couples have many concerns which usually include child custody and property division and may also include child support and spousal support or alimony. While a military divorce can carry with it certain complexities, there are some basics to understand that apply to most divorces.

Getting answers to common property division questions is important for divorcing military spouses. Property division in Virginia is conducted according to equitable property division rules which means property will be fairly divided between the divorcing spouses. What is considered fair is based on a variety of factors the family law court will consider. It is important to keep in mind that what may be fair may not necessarily be a split of property in half.

The basics of how the security clearance process works

Because a job may depend on a security clearance, it is important to understand the security clearance process and the guidelines for obtaining a security clearance. Familiarity with he process and guidelines can help those seeking a security clearance better troubleshoot challenges that may arise.

Background checks for security clearances are conducted for national security; the public trust; to determine basic suitability or verify an identity; and for positions that are regulated by the government. Investigations are conducted for federal applicants and employees, active military personnel, government contractors and private sector employees who are in positions regulated by the government.

Using mediation for your military divorce

There are different legal options to help guide divorcing military couples through the divorce process. One option that can minimize time, expense and acrimony is military divorce which is why it is important to understand.

A mediator acts as a neutral third party to help divorcing couples stay focused on resolutions. They help keep the discussion focused and solution-oriented so that the divorcing couple can arrive at a settlement agreement in a timelier fashion. Mediators are neutral third parties who are there to help guide the conversation, inform the parties of the law that applies to their situation and circumstances and help find points of common ground between the parties so they can settle their divorce-related concerns.

Protect your parental rights when you deploy

Going through a divorce is tough enough; however, serving a deployment before your divorce is final can be stressful beyond belief. While you undoubtedly want to take care of personal issues so you can put the past behind you and move on in life, you also realize the importance of focusing on the task at hand when carrying out your military duties.  

Especially if you are facing combat, mental distraction or personal stress from home can place your life and the lives of others at risk. Concerning child custody in Virginia, you'll want to learn as much as you can about the Service Member's Relief Act. It can protect your parental rights and prevent child custody problems while you're away.  

Protecting a security clearance is important

This blog recently discussed some common questions that might come up surrounding security clearances. Security clearances are important for many individuals working for the government, including some military personnel which makes understanding them, and the resources available to help with them, important.

A security clearance can be important for a number of different groups including members of the armed services, civil servants and government contractor employees who require security clearance to obtain and maintain their employment. In addition, different government departments may be involved including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, State Department or CIA so it is worthwhile to understand the process in advance and know what to expect from it.

Common questions about security clearances

Security clearances may be an important part of your job so it is helpful to understand them and have any questions you might have about them answered. A security clearance may be required in many government jobs, including military service and in others.

You might wonder who needs a security clearance and who can apply for one. When the position requires access to classified information, the government determines if the individual will need a security clearance. Based on the duties and responsibilities of the individual's position within the government, the government will determine what level of security clearance they require. There are three levels of security clearance. In general, only United States citizens can apply for security clearances.

What are the most common causes of divorce in the military?

If yours is one of many Virginia families with one or both spouses serving in the U.S. military, you can likely relate to many of the challenges your fellow service members face in trying to balance marriage, family life and military duties. Perhaps you or your spouse are currently deployed or have just recently come back home from an overseas assignment.  

Adjusting to deployment and re-adjusting to stateside living often causes marital stress. Current data shows that military marriages, in general, might be less likely to end in divorce than marriages among civilians. However, several types of issues and situations seem to negatively affect marital relationships when one or both spouses are military service members. If your marriage is in trouble, know that you are not alone and that support is available.  

Help with child visitation during a military divorce

Some things about a military divorce may be the same as a non-military divorce and some things may be different. One aspect of a military divorce that may be different is child visitation and the complications out-of-state transfers and deployments can present.

Overall, the basic structure of a child custody arrangement for military parents may be similar in many respects to a child custody arrangement for non-military parents. There is generally a custody agreement that is in writing and has been approved by the family law court. There may also be different types of child custody and child visitation arrangements and, depending on the circumstances, some may be more structured than others. A structured child custody agreement may be very detailed and specific and include logistics.

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