A military divorce is a term that is commonly used to refer to a divorce where at least one of the spouses is an active duty military member or is a former military member in retirement status. A Fairfax military divorce can be a confusing situation without the help of a Fairfax military divorce attorney. Contact an experienced Fairfax divorce lawyer for information regarding your case.

Unique Aspects of Military Divorces

A military divorce is different from a civilian divorce in that military service members receive certain benefits particular to the military, such as military pension and healthcare through the military. These are benefits that are not available to civilians.

In addition, military service members receive pay over and above their basic salaries that is an allowance for housing and other such expenses that can vary among different areas or different states. This allowance is one of the components in a civil divorce, particularly as it relates to calculation of the service member’s income.

Parties Typically Involved

In addition to the two spouses, certain government agencies will be part of the divorce. The federal government and other agencies dealing specifically with military benefits may get involved when it comes to assignment or division of benefits.

The role of the Fairfax legal system in a divorce is to: 1) finalize the divorce and 2) put in place orders that maybe required to divide military benefits such as pensions, Thrift Savings Plans, or other such assets particular to military benefits.

Role of the Military Command

In typical military divorces in Fairfax, command does not usually get involved. However, there have been situations in which military command gets involved with the non-military spouse when they are not receiving support consistent with military guidelines – cases where the higher earning spouse does not pay the non-earning or lower earning spouse. One way to make sure that happens outside of the Fairfax legal system is to go to the command of the service member and to inform them that support is not being appropriately paid to them or their child.  Military command can then take certain steps to ensure that payment occurs, including disciplining a military service member for not following the military regulations.

When One Spouse is in the Military

When only one of the spouses is in the military, the nonmilitary spouse will have entitlement to assets that the military service member holds. For example, there is a pension for people who put in a certain amount of service time, and a Thrift Savings Plan, which is similar to a 401K. The other thing that comes into play is continued medical care. There are various rules in the military about how long the service member must have been active duty and how many of those years they were married in deciding whether the spouse receives continued medical benefits through the military.

Receiving Benefits from the Military

Benefits to the civilian ex-spouse from the military include an entitlement to a portion of a pension, and in that circumstance, there will need to be an order directing a percentage paid to the ex-spouse. When a military service member in Fairfax has been active duty for 20 or more years and the ex-spouse was married to the service member for 20 of those service years, then the ex-spouse can receive lifetime healthcare benefits from the military healthcare provider. There is also the possibility that the ex-spouse would receive a portion of the Thrift Savings Plan, although that division typically happens around the time of the divorce, whereas the division of the pension  occurs after the divorce if the service member is still active duty at the time of the divorce.

Non-Traditional Asset Class

A non-traditional asset class is a kind of account where a military service member can contribute funds as a retirement account. The Thrift Savings Plan could be considered a non-traditional asset class. This will be relevant in a divorce where one or both parties to the divorce are military service members.

Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation in a Military Divorce

Mediation is a means to resolve the disputed issues within a divorce by cooperation and hopefully ultimately agreement.  In mediation, a person has a neutral third party, the mediator, whose job is to help the parties compromise to arrive at a settlement that each party can live with. Mediation does not require an outcome. Parties can mediate and not resolve their case, but mediation is a useful tool for two spouses getting divorce and want to resolve their case outside of the courtroom.

Arbitration involves the parties going before a decision-maker to present evidence and argument. At the end, a binding outcome will be made by the arbitrator. Arbitrations are typically less formal settings for litigation of cases outside a courtroom.

Litigation is what people traditionally think about for a divorce, and that is when a case goes into the court system, a trial is conducted, and a judge decides the outcome of the case.

Hiring a Fairfax Military Divorce Lawyer

For legal counseling on a Fairfax military divorce case, consult with a military divorce lawyer in Fairfax today. There are many moving parts in a case involving divorce, especially a military divorce, so make sure you are well-informed with an experienced Fairfax attorney.