Hello. Your call is important to us. Allow us to leave you on hold for an indefinite period, repeatedly telling you how important you are to us without us actually having to listen to you. If you are in the military, please consider speaking with your JAG office before speaking with us. Hello. Your call is important to us.
Military Law & Military Divorce Law
You are serving in the nation’s military. You love and defend your country. Your marriage is suffering. Perhaps the two issues are related; perhaps they are not. You go to your Judge Advocate General — JAG — offices to get some legal help with the preliminary steps to dissolving a marriage:
- Property Settlement Agreement
- Separation Agreement
The folks prowling around the JAG offices may sincerely want to help, but they are above all else military law experts, not civilian lawyers. They can direct you to help, and often with separating or divorcing military couples, the JAG will send you to one of the many online sites to download the least expensive paperwork possible.
Is the JAG doing right by you? Is JAG advice valid? Is the generic legal paperwork any good?
Sic Semper Tyrannis
If you are a real Virginian, you probably recognize Virginia’s state motto, Sic Semper Tyrannis (“Thus always to tyrants”). It’s a quick and handy way to filter out the generic and the state specific, the passerby from the true Virginian.
Unfortunately, most of the websites eagerly offered by the JAG attorneys are so generic, so bland, and so inexact, they will not have Virginia-specific documents available. The idea that “one size fits all” in legal paperwork is delightfully ludicrous. Lawyers, legislators, judges and court officers all are jealously particular about their paperwork. True, some federal laws require identical paperwork across state lines, but most states prefer their own forms and documents when it comes to family law because they often have vastly different laws.
For example, Virginia does not recognize “legal separation,” nor does it provide paperwork to become “legally separated.” The closest thing you can get is a property settlement agreement. Your professional, well-educated Virginia attorney can craft a document that provides all the details needed for separation, while also helping to start the clock on divorce.
A quality document that is legally binding in Virginia will incorporate all areas of the upcoming divorce in great detail:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Parenting time and visitation schedules
- Property division
- Retirement funds, stocks, bonds, real estate and intangible property
Online sites with automated separation agreement generators cannot do all of that, because they do not take into account what Virginia’s legal system requires. What is good in Arizona is not necessarily good in the Commonwealth.
JAG & Virginia Law
If you or your spouse is in the military, neither of you may really know Virginia law. You could be here on a posting that meets a legal threshold for residency, but you may not have a lifetime of experience dealing with Virginia laws and customs.
What is reasonable to JAG — to send you to an inexpensive legal documents site — may not be a reasonable solution for you. With no disrespect to JAG, they are primarily interested in getting your case off their caseload, and a recommendation to go to some generic document cruncher is a way to do that.
The advice JAG provides you is a benefit of your military service, but no JAG attorney could possibly know the civilian laws of the state of your current posting as well as a local family law firm. Do not expect from JAG the same level of service you get when you use a local, experienced Virginia family law practice.
Looking to Save Money?
JAG means well; they want to save servicemen money. Yet, are you saving money by using “free” or “$29.95” property settlement agreement papers found on the internet?
Usually, you save nothing and lose a lot. You lose detail, nuance, and local applicability. You lose opportunities to detail what is yours, what is hers, and what must be divided. You lose, possibly, significantly more:
- Child custody — Why cede your rights to your own child because of some random checkbox on a generic form?
- Retirement savings — In Virginia, “equitable” does not always mean 50-50; do not sign away future income!
- Military benefits — JAG should, you would think, work hard to protect your military benefits (healthcare, discounts, pensions) but online paperwork generators often are woefully inadequate in this area
- Intangible property — Most boilerplate agreements cannot take into account concepts of royalties, patents, and intellectual property that need safeguarding during separation
- Extensive real estate — Your military service may have allowed you to invest in a vacation home in another state; most online paperwork mills have no provision for dealing with complex real estate transactions
We Know Virginia Separation Agreements
For something more than the one-size-fits-all approach, contact The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contact our offices online. Your call truly is important to us. We do more than the JAG attorneys will do for you. We work hard every day to protect and defend Virginia men’s rights in family law.