Virginia is a military state. There are at least 117,000 active members of the military in Virginia and 27 military bases. Even though the divorce rate is low for military families — about 3.5 percent, according to the Pentagon — it does happen. Military divorces are similar to civilian divorces in many ways, however, visitation is especially worrisome when deployment is a factor.
A member of the armed services who is deployed obviously can’t see his or her child every other weekend. And he or she can’t be at court hearings if a spouse has filed for divorce. That’s why there are laws to prevent active duty members of the military from getting a raw deal in court.
The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection (Code §20-147.7, et al.) Act was passed by the General Assembly in order to preserve the rights of service members deployed overseas. Under the law, a court is authorized to temporarily establish or modify the custody and visitation rights of the deployed parent, including delegating those rights to family members, while the deployed parent is overseas.
According to the Act, a non-deploying parent must make an effort to accommodate the leave schedule of the deploying parent. In addition, the non-deploying parent must help facilitate telephone and email communication between a child and his deployed parent. As for the deployed parent, the Act requires him or her to provide timely information regarding his or her leave schedule to the parent at home.
There are also Federal laws to protect the rights of a deployed parent. The Service members Civil Relief Act protects the rights of men and women already deployed. The law postpones or suspends a handful of civil obligations, such as mortgage payments, taxes and credit card debt, so active military members can focus on their military duties without concern that their civil rights are in jeopardy at home. These rights include those related to divorce, which can be delayed until the soldier returns home.
Divorce and child custody is challenging, especially for active military members and their families. Talk to an attorney experienced in military divorce and custody to ensure your rights under the law are protected.
The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you.