When you hire an attorney, you probably want to know that the attorney you’ve hired (or are considering hiring) has experience with cases similar to yours. This is especially true for military spouses.
In some ways, I find it a little silly, to be honest. After all, a divorce is a divorce, and, in Virginia, regardless of whether you’re military or civilian, there are only so many options available to you. It’s not like military divorce is this magical unicorn of a divorce. That being said, though, there are definitely some points related to the military – like the division of the pension, the SBP, and support – that can be a little bit more challenging. It’s not really that the LAW is applied any differently to military versus civilian divorces, but the military makes it a little bit more difficult. With the military pension, for example, you have to contend with DFAS – which means that any final decrees entered in your case will need to include certain, specific information in order for DFAS to honor it.
But, you asked a question, and I will answer it.
Do you specialize in military divorce?
In Virginia, it’s considered unethical to say that we “specialize” in anything. There are no specific specializations available that fall under this category; there is no such thing as a formal specialization in military divorce in Virginia.
But, that being said, we handle a LOT of military divorce. So, it’s not at all unfamiliar to us.
Not only that, but we’ve spent a lot of time creating a lot of free information related to military divorce so that our prospective clients can get the information they need. We – literally – wrote the book on military divorce for Virginia women!
So, although we can’t ethically say we specialize in military divorce, I can say that military divorce is something that all of our attorneys are very, very familiar with, that we stay up to date with all the changes in the law (which have been a LOT, recently!) and that we can handle pretty much any military issue you could throw our way.
What would you recommend that I do, if I’m facing a Virginia military divorce?
The first thing you should do when you’re facing divorce – whether military or civilian – is to gather as much information as possible.
For you, that’s easy – since we have a military divorce book that is specifically targeted to your situation. In fact, we have a new edition of the book out, so you should definitely request a free copy today. It covers a lot of the changes to the military pension plan, including the new (and slightly terrifying) blended retirement plan. I won’t bore you with all the details, but a couple things you should know: if your husband has a certain number of years of service, he can opt into the blended retirement plan WITHOUT telling you! What’s the difference between traditional and blended retirement? Well, under the traditional retirement plan, you just got a flat percentage of your high three as your portion of your pension; under the blended retirement plan, you take a lesser portion of the high three, but combine with what you’ve been able to save in the TSP (with matching from the government).
Bottom line? You’re likely to be fine, if you’re diligent enough to save for retirement on top of what you’ll receive in the pension. But it does require an affirmative act from you – specifically, setting aside that TSP money – that is fairly difficult for most Americans. It’s fine, and could potentially even be better for your bottom line, if you do – but that takes discipline. (Also, it’s hard to have discipline if you didn’t know your husband was opting into this retirement program to begin with!) For new people recruited into the military, blended retirement will be the way, but for people with a certain number of years of service, there’ll be an option. It’s important to know where you fall, which retirement plan your husband is participating in, and how that might impact your total overall interest in his retirement.
While military divorce isn’t magically different from civilian divorce, there are nuances that you’ll want your attorney to be familiar with. Not everyone does military divorce all the time, and I’ve seen some pretty outdated language in agreements and decrees I’ve received from other attorneys.
It’s a good idea to do your research and make sure you’ve got a practitioner who is experienced in military divorce.
Request your copy of the book today, and feel free to give our office a call to schedule your consultation at 757-425-5200 when you’re ready to start moving your case forward. We’re here to help!