Regrettably, the divorce rate for military marriages is high. With many military families living in Northern Virginia, a result is a lot of military divorces occur here. If you are in the unfortunate position of being a party to one of these divorces, it is critical that you hire an attorney who is well versed in the issues that are unique to military divorce.
Why You Need an Experienced Military Divorce Lawyer
There are several topics which are unique to a divorce when at least one of the spouses is or was a service member, and you will need an attorney who is knowledgeable about all of these issues. At Kales & Kales, having guided clients through numerous military divorces, we consider ourselves well versed attorneys about these topics.
Amongst these topics is how a military pension is treated upon divorce. In our experience, the portion of a military pension earned during a marriage is usually divided 50/50, whether a case is settled or litigated. This is because Virginia law treats that portion of a military pension as marital property, as Virginia law begins with the presumption that all property acquired during a marriage is marital, which means a judge has the authority to divide it.
Also necessary to address in a military divorce is the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) available to all military members. When a service member passes away, through the SBP, a surviving beneficiary may continue to receive pension benefits after the service member’s death. If a case does not settle, Virginia courts have the authority to order a service member to designate an ex-spouse as beneficiary.
Furthermore, if a service member’s ex-spouse will meet the “20/20/20” requirement, the ex spouse will be eligible to receive military commissary and exchange privileges and medical insurance post divorce. To qualify as a 20/20/20 spouse, the service member must have been in the military for at least 20 years; the marriage has to have been at least 20 years long; and there has to have been at least 20 years of overlap between the marriage and a service member’s time in the military.