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D.C. Area Military Law Blog

The complexities of child custody and military service

Child custody considerations can encounter additional complications in circumstances of military divorces. In general, the process for making child custody determinations is the same for divorcing military couples as divorcing civilian couples and always remain focused on a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

Military service, however, can complicate child custody considerations to the extent that possible deployments or relocations must be considered and taken into account. Parental relocation laws typically govern the relocation of a parent with a child a certain distance from the other parent and take into account several factors when determining whether to permit the relocation or not. In situations of military families, child custody agreements can include provisions for what will happen in the event a parent is deployed or relocated.

Problems that can come up with security clearances

Being denied a security clearance can be a serious issue for military personnel. As a result, it can be helpful to understand the reasons why security clearance may be denied so that they can be addressed. The security process is lengthy and involves a thorough background investigation. A denial of a security clearance can occur for different reasons, including financial concerns, mental health concerns or criminal conduct.

Any significant financial concerns, such as a significant amount of debt, missed financial payments, tax evasion, embezzlement, collection judgments, check fraud, foreclosures or bankruptcies, may result in a security clearance being denied. Gambling issues may also result in an application for a security clearance being rejected. When reviewing the background of an applicant for a security clearance, the applicant's complete financial picture is considered.

Understanding non-judicial punishments and service member rights

Non-judicial punishments in the military are referred to under Article 15. Non-judicial punishments refer to when commanding officers have the ability to administratively discipline service members for minor offenses. Depending on what branch of the military the service member is in, either a commanding officer or officer in charge is able to carry out a non-judicial punishment under military law.

Familiarity with military law is important for any service member. During a non-judicial punishment procedure, a commanding officer or officer in charge is able to make an inquiry into the facts surrounding an alleged minor offenses a service member under that person's command is accused of committing; afford the accused service member a hearing as to the offense; and is able to dispose of the charges by dismissing them, impose punishment under Article 15 or refer the case for court martial.

Military divorce basics and knowing what to expect

Military divorces are not unlike civilian divorces in that they involve issues and concerns such as property division; alimony or spousal support; child support; and child custody. Military couples who have made the decision to divorce likely want to know how to anticipate these issues and concerns will be resolved.

Child custody can be a contentious concern in any divorce proceeding. It is important to both protect parental rights and also ensure that the child custody determination is based on what is in the best interests of the child which is how child custody determinations are made. In addition, child support concerns must also be resolved and are based on different child support guidelines and formulas by state so it is essential to be familiar with what those are and know how to address any deviations from the guidelines.

Child custody issues often complicated for military parents

As a resident of Virginia who serves in one of the nation's armed forces, you understand what it's like to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the nation. As a military service member who also happens to be a parent, you know that personal sacrifice and parenting often go hand in hand. In many ways, family life as a member of the U.S. military is not that much different from family life as a civilian.

However, with matters having to do with child custody and other divorce-related issues, things may not only be quite different but rather complicated as well. It's all the more reason to gain clear understanding of your rights as a military parent and to know how to quickly access support to protect your rights and your children's best interests if a problem arises, especially while you're deployed.

What is the military security clearance process?

If you are endeavoring through the security clearance process you may have many questions, including what the process entails and what to expect. In general, background investigations are conducted for national security; public trust; identity verification; basic suitability; and for positions regulated by the government. Investigations are conducted on active military personnel and others.

The process begins when an individual is offered a position requiring a security clearance. The first step in the process if for the individual to complete a questionnaire to initiate the investigation. The second step in the process is for the investigation to be conducted. Lastly, the investigation is adjudicated and clearance is granted. In general, security clearances are granted when there is a need for access to classified information that has been demonstrated.

How state and federal laws affect military divorce

Military divorces share many similarities with civilian divorces, however, there are certain rules and requirements that are different during a military divorce. The divorce process can be challenging for any couple, so it is useful to have an understanding of the process in advance.

Both state and federal laws apply to military divorces. Federal laws can impact what court the couple's divorce ends up in or how a military pension is divided, while state laws can impact spousal support. In addition, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal law that prevents divorce proceedings during active duty service. Under the SCRA, service men and women cannot generally be sued or have divorce proceedings initiated against them during active duty or 60 days following active duty to allow them to focus on their service.

Military pay, benefits and ex-spouses

There are many advantages that Virginia residents can take from offering their service to the United States military. Aside from excellent training and experience, service members can retire from their military careers with substantial pensions and good benefits for themselves and their family members. However, when a service member and their spouse choose to divorce, it can be hard to know just what will happen with the financial and benefits-based perks a service member collects from their branch of the military.

When civilians divorce, the assets and wealth that the parties earned during their marriage are considered marital and subject to division by the divorce court. This is generally the same for military couples, thanks in part to the laws of the state where the couple secures their divorce and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act.

Is your spouse keeping secrets in divorce?

You may find navigating a high asset divorce extremely challenging. Most Virginia residents who have been through similar processes would likely agree. A key factor toward achieving a fair and agreeable settlement, however, can be a willingness from both spouses to cooperate and compromise, and also to have full disclosure when it comes to finances and assets. Virginia, like most other states, follows equitable property division laws. So the focus is on a fair division, which isn't necessarily 50/50.

That's all well and good if all involved parties are being honest, but what if your spouse is being deceptive? In fact, what happens if your spouse is purposely trying to hide assets to keep the court from dividing them between the two of you? If you suspect this problem, you should know right up front that such activity is not only mean-spirited; it is illegal.

Desertion is a serious charge against a service member

One of the reasons that the United States military is the strongest in the world is the ingrained sense of duty, discipline and respect for hierarchy that service members embrace when they take on the incredible role of soldier, sailor or airman. Virginia residents who have served in the armed forces can attest to the importance of trusting one's fellow service members and understanding the importance of fulfilling one's responsibilities not only to protect their personal safety but also to protect the well-being of others in their units.

The importance of duty in the military is, therefore, critical to its functioning, and when a service member evades their responsibilities, serious consequences can result. Prior posts on this blog discussed the military crime of AWOL; this post will expand on what it means to face claims of military desertion.

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