It’s usually a foregone conclusion that the marriage is over by the time couples with one or both of them serving in the armed forces decide to hire Virginia military divorce attorneys. Child custody, visitation, support, and distribution of pensions and other assets usually remain the only issues left to resolve, which is not that different from civilian divorces. However, military pension division presents challenges for a military divorce lawyer in Newport News that lawyers for civilian couples would not face. The reason has to do with federal law restricting how states allow their judges to calculate military pension division.
Equitable Distribution and Military Pensions
Virginia law treats marriage as an economic partnership and provides for the equitable distribution of assets. Those assets acquired by the parties during the marriage are marital property to be distributed between the spouses as part of a divorce. Property acquired as a gift or inheritance by only one spouse during the marriage or assets that a spouse brings into the marriage may be separate property and not subject to equitable distribution.
The value of marital assets must be determined as of a specific date, which usually is the date of trial of the divorce or another date agreed to by the parties with approval of the court. An appraisal may be all it takes to arrive at the value of homes, cars, art collections and other assets. It becomes more complex when marital assets include pension or retirement plans.
A pension or retirement account may be a combination of marital property and separate property. The portion of a pension’s value earned during the marriage would be marital property. If the pension predates the marriage, that portion of its value earned prior to the marriage would be separate property. When all or a portion of the value of a pension in the name of one spouse is a marital asset, Hampton courts may not award more than 50% of its value to the other spouse.