Military & Federal Employee Divorce

Practice Overview

Experience You Need to Navigate a Military or Federal Employee Divorce

Virginia is home to thousands of federal employees and military members who work in the Washington D.C. and surrounding area. Like many other couples, federal and military spouses choose to end their marriages and file for divorce; however, there are special circumstances for these employees that must be taken into consideration during divorce proceedings. The knowledgeable Virginia divorce attorneys at Select Law Partners, PLLC have the experience you need to successfully navigate a military or federal employee divorce. To learn more about the special considerations in your case, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

Federal Employee Divorce

One of the most substantial considerations in a divorce involving a federal employee is the division of retirement benefits. In an equitable distribution state like Virginia, spouses must split their marital estate equitably in divorce, but not necessarily equally. This includes retirement benefits that accumulated during the course of the marriage, but many federal retirement plans have strict rules regarding vesting, accumulation, and distribution. Failure to adhere to the strict rules surrounding federal retirement benefits can result in serious tax and financial consequences. If you use a lawyer without experience in federal employee divorce cases, you could risk severe penalties and other issues with your retirement benefits.

Property division, alimony, and child support may also be affected in a federal employee divorce differently than non-civil service spouses. Pay grades, advancement schedules, and accumulated leave may all factor into negotiations during a federal employee divorce, and you need a lawyer who has experience with it all.

Federal employees who have children may face additional issues in their divorce if the federal position could result in transfer to another office or division outside of the Virginia or Washington D.C. area. A knowledgeable attorney can help you craft a parenting plan that maximizes the amount of time that you spend with your child and create a custody schedule that best fits the unique needs of your family.

Military Divorce Considerations

Military divorce comes with its own unique challenges, especially if one or both spouses are on active duty. Procedurally, military families need to check that they meet the residency requirement before filing for divorce in Virginia. If the spouse not filing is on active duty, serving notice of the divorce petition can be difficult, and there are laws that protect military spouses from default judgments in divorce in these situations as well as provisions that allow for a stay of proceedings until that spouse returns from active duty.

When there are children involved in a military divorce, child custody and support also require special consideration. This is particularly true if one or both spouses are transferred to another base or deployed on active duty. An experienced military divorce attorney like those at Select Law Partners, PLLC can help craft a parenting plan that meets the needs of the parents and the child in these situations. This may include discussions about sole or joint custody, the allocation of legal and physical custody, visitation schedules, travel arrangements, and more. Once the divorce is finalized, our office can continue to assist clients of military divorce with modifications to a parenting plan as relocation or deployment occurs.

Finally, like federal employee divorces in Virginia, military divorce also requires special considerations for retirement and other military benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) entitles a non-military spouse to a share of these benefits if certain requirements are met, and military pensions also come with their own rules on distribution in divorce cases. For example, under the USFSPA a non-military spouse may collect military retirement benefits so long as the marriage lasted at least 10 years during which the military spouse performed at least 10 years of service credited toward retirement. Our military divorce lawyer understands how these laws may impact your case and will explain how these nuanced issues may affect the property division as well as your short and long-term finances.

Legal Experience You Can Trust

At Select Law Partners, PLLC our office has the knowledge and experience you need to manage the special considerations that come with your military or federal employee divorce. With many years of combined experience, our team has handled all types of issues that arise with these types of divorce cases and can answer any question you have at any step of the process. We pride ourselves on our transparency and open communication with clients, so you always know what is happening in your case and what to expect next. We zealously advocate on behalf of our clients and will fight for what you deserve in your Virginia divorce case.

Sarah Goding, an experienced attorney at our firm has successfully facilitated federal and military divorce cases through alternative dispute resolution methods like divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. We are also well versed at litigating complex divorce issues at trial. We understand the special considerations of federal employee and military divorce cases and can skillfully handle any issues that may arise.

Can my spouse receive a divorce judgment while I am on active duty?

No, laws protect active military members from default judgments in divorce cases if the petition is filed immediately before or while the spouse is on active duty. Our office can help file a stay or advocate for your best interests while on deployment.

Is my spouse automatically entitled to my federal or military retirement benefits?

As an equitable division state, Virginia requires that all assets acquired during the marriage be split equitably, and in many federal employee and military divorce cases the retirement benefits are significant. However, you may be able to negotiate a settlement that gives your spouse other assets and allows you to keep your retirement benefits.

How long does a federal employee or military divorce take?

The length of a military or federal employee divorce depends on a multitude of factors, including the complexity of the marital estate, the level of conflict between spouses, the number of issues to resolve, and whether a spouse is on active deployment.

Federal Employee and Military Divorce is Manageable with the Right Lawyer

  • Start fresh with a property distribution that keeps you financially secure
  • Spend time with your child on a schedule that meets your unique needs
  • Our team ensures the proper amount of support to maintain your child’s standard of living
  • Feel secure with a divorce settlement that provides you with retirement benefits for the future.

To learn more about federal employee or military divorces in Virginia, the knowledgeable lawyers at Select Law Partners, PLLC are here to help. We understand how stressful and trying this time can be, but you are not in it alone. Our office will answer all your questions and help you negotiate a divorce settlement with your best interests in mind.

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