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D.C. Area Military Law Blog

The basics of a military divorce

Military divorce may run into certain complexities that civilian divorces do not experience. Because the divorce process is inherently stressful, it is helpful to understand what these challenges are that divorcing military couples may face and understand that the family law process provides options to help at each step along the way.

There are different resources and tools available to help divorcing military couples address their divorce and family law concerns. Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration, is one option to consider for a more efficient divorce process. In addition, to protect the interests of the divorcing spouses, it is necessary to be familiar with considerations such as the Service members Civil Relief Act and how it impacts military divorces.

Protecting your parental rights re post-divorce travel with kids

As a member of the U.S. military, you undoubtedly understand how challenging it can be to balance career with family life. The armed forces are not immune to high rates of divorce, so if you have recently ended your own marriage, know that there are likely many others, perhaps even among your Virginia unit, who have done the same.  

You can update your family military care plan to include instructions regarding your co-parenting agreement in divorce. A question many military parents have is whether a spouse can take a child out of state or abroad at any time once the court issues a final divorce decree. There is not set answer since state laws vary and your specific care plan and/or court order impacts your family's situation. A key to avoiding major problems lies in knowing where to seek support if trouble arises. 

How can alcohol use impact my security clearance?

For military members who use or abuse alcoholism, the impact on their security clearance may understandably concern them. They may wonder what impact alcohol use can have on their security clearance. According to the Adjudicative Guidelines, excessive alcohol consumption is viewed as leading to questionable judgment and a lack of impulse control which can call into question reliability and trustworthiness. This can threaten a security clearance so it is important to understand.

Alcohol-related behavior can cause concerns related to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. There are a variety of considerations used to evaluate if the alcohol use rises to the level of creating a concern related to the military member's security clearance. Military members should be familiar with what they are and the impact that abuse of alcohol or alcoholism can have on a security clearance.

A look at the impact of deployments on military divorces

Military members can be at greater risk for divorce. According to researchers, reporting on the largest study on broken families in the military, longer and more frequent combat deployments in countries in the Middle East undermined marital satisfaction which led to a greater number of divorces. The research looked at 460,000 service members from 1999 and 2008 and discovered that the likelihood of divorce increased with each month the deployed spouse was away at war.

The research found that deployments negatively impacted expectations for the marriages and that the length, conditions and risks of deployments served as a shock within some of the marriages. Marriages that began prior to September 11, 2001, failed at a rate of one in seven as the expectations entering the marriage were far different from the reality following the major terrorist event that changed U.S. military engagements unexpectedly for some military couples. For marriages that began after September 11, 2001, the divorce risk was one in eight.

What is a security clearance?

If you are new to the process, or maybe need to revisit it, you may have questions about exactly what a security clearance is. Federal government security clearances are awarded to certain personnel and companies when they are eligible to access classified information or facilities. There are three leaves of personnel security clearances including Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. Because a security clearance can be important to the livelihood of military personnel or others in government, as well as contractors, it is an important process to be familiar with.

The Department of Defense manages security clearances. The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office, which is part of the Defense Security Services, processes all security clearance applications and adjudicates them as well. A security clearance can remain in effect as long as access to classified information is part of the job function of the party with security clearance but may be subject to periodic reinvestigation.

The basics of property division during divorce

Military divorces can be somewhat complex at times. One reason for that is because both federal and state laws can impact a military divorce. Though federal laws can impact property division considerations during a military divorce, such as pensions, and jurisdiction for a military divorce can be another potentially complicated issue, it is helpful for divorcing military couples to understand basic property division laws in Virginia.

Understanding the basics of the property division can help divorcing couples know what to expect and plan for the future. Property that is divided during divorce includes marital property which is, generally, property the couple acquired during the marriage. Marital property is contrasted from separate property which is not subject to being divided. Separate property includes property one of the spouses entered the marriage with, gifts and inheritances and some other types of property. Additional complexities can arise if property was co-mingled and in some other circumstances as well.

How are military benefits impacted by divorce?

Military couples who are divorcing may have many questions and concerns related to military benefits. Determining how military benefits will be handled in a military divorce can be complex and will have to take into account divorce laws and military regulations which can make the process especially challenging.

The more divorcing couples know about the process and what to expect, the better prepared they will be to resolve the complexities they may face.

Help for military members facing violations of military law

There are a variety of specific and unique legal issues military members may face. Because some of the threats they face can be career-ending, it is important for military members to be familiar with their legal options and rights. As is also true when anyone has a legal concern or legal matter they need help with, it is important to understand the legal resources and options available to them. Military service members facing accusations of violating military law need to be prepared with how to respond to those allegations because the consequences can be significant.

Service members may require defense help in a court martial proceeding or help navigating the sometimes complex security clearance process. Military members may find themselves facing a variety of difficult or challenging legal issues including problems with military security clearances or civil servant security clearances; courts-martial proceedings; discipline by a commanding officer; allegations of mistreatment by commanding officers; or situations involving military and Navy boards of correction. In addition, military members may have concerns related to disability claims and physical evaluation boards.

Will your mental illness jeopardize your security clearance?

Whether you serve in the military or do contract work for the government, your security clearance is an important part of your ability to move forward in your career. Having a security clearance allows you access to exclusive locations such as secret areas where the government houses classified information. The higher your clearance level, the more trust the government places in you and the better your chances for rewarding and lucrative jobs.

Qualifying for a security clearance means receiving extensive training and passing severe background checks. If you are pursuing a job that requires a security clearance, you may have concerns, especially if you have a mental or emotional health issue. Do these types of illnesses disqualify you from obtaining a security clearance?

What are the different types of military discharge?

Being discharged from the military is a significant event in the life of most military members. Military members enter the military in a contract with the government and it provides a source of livelihood for military members who are protecting the nation. As a result, if they are facing discharge, they may have a number of questions about what the different types of discharge are and what they mean.

There are two primary categories that military discharges fall into including administrative discharges and punitive discharges. An administrative discharge is given by a discharging authority of high rank which is usually a high-ranking officer. A punitive discharge is generally given through a courts-martial. The quality of service and reason for the separation determines the type of discharge the military member may receive. Types of administrative discharges include honorable and other than honorable discharges. Each type of discharge represents a separation of the military member's relationship with the military.

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