Frequently Asked Questions: Virginia Military Divorce
Going through a divorce can be extremely hard on anyone. But for military personnel it can be especially trying. Because of the nature of a military career, military personnel often face unique challenges during divorce proceedings. That is why having an attorney who not only understands the law of divorce but also what a military life entails is important.
At the law firm of Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates/Messman Law, PLC, our military divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach understands the particular challenges of military life. Founded by a retired United States Navy captain, and now grown by a military spouse and parent, Messman Law, PLC focuses a substantial amount of its practice on catering to the unique legal needs of the large military population in the Virginia area. Her knowledge and understanding of the needs of military spouses during divorce proceedings goes well beyond basic military divorce statistics.
Where should a military member file for divorce?
Many military personnel face frequent transfers and rarely remain stationed in the same place for an extended period. This can create confusion as to what court should have jurisdiction over a military divorce, especially when spouses do not live together. These jurisdictional issues determine not only where the parties must file for divorce but also which law governs the proceedings.
Virginia courts have subject matter jurisdiction over divorce actions where at least one party is a resident of the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, residents include the following:
- Any person who has maintained residence in the Commonwealth for at least six months prior to filing for divorce
- Any member of the armed forces stationed within the Commonwealth
- Any member of the armed forces stationed abroad who resided in the Commonwealth for at least six months prior to being stationed abroad
Subject matter jurisdiction may exist in more than one state and obtaining personal jurisdiction may be difficult in some contentious cases. As such, it is important to consult a military divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach in order to determine the best jurisdiction in which to file.
What rights does a service member have regarding minor children?
One of the many contentious issues in divorce proceedings is the custody and visitation of minor children. As in most states, Virginia courts examine the relative positions of the parties to determine what division of custody and visitation is in the best interests of the children involved. This can be difficult for service members who may lack the stability of a non-military spouse.
Fortunately, the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act (MPEPA) provides service member parents with some protection against losing visitation and custody rights due to their deployment status. The MPEPA allows military parents to modify custody and visitation orders more easily upon returning from deployment and to delegate their custody and visitation rights to a family member or stepparent during periods of deployment.
Contact a Virginia Beach military divorce lawyer
The Virginia Beach military divorce lawyers at the law firm of Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates/Messman Law, PLC understand the special issues that confront active and former members of the United States armed services. That is why, for several years, I (we) have provided legal services–including family law and estate planning–to the members of the Virginia military community. Call my offices at or contact me online to schedule a consultation with an experienced military divorce attorney in Virginia Beach.
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