Family Law Counsel for Active Duty Service People and Veterans
Protecting the rights of those who protect our freedom
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who serve our country in times of peace and war. At LaFevor & Slaughter in Knoxville, we provide legal guidance and personal support to the men and women of our armed forces who are stationed in or call Tennessee home. Our firm founder Jim LaFevor is a Vietnam combat veteran; today, we help active duty military and veterans by protecting their rights when it comes to divorce, child custody and child support.
Focusing on military divorce
The decision to dissolve your marriage is a difficult one in any situation. When you serve in the military, however, there are additional concerns that civilians do not have to contend with in a family law proceeding. We can guide you through the process and help you with:
- Property division. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (FSPA) of 1983 gives the states the right to determine whether a veteran’s retirement fund can be divided as property in a divorce. We aim to help you keep all of your retirement; if you cannot, we strive to ensure that you keep as much as you can.
- Survivor Benefit Plans. The FSPA also governs the annuity granted to survivors when a service member passes away. Tennessee courts have the right to order you to keep your former spouse as your beneficiary even if you get divorced. The Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter can help you through the process of requesting a modification or change.
- Spousal support. The courts only grant alimony if your former spouse requests it, and if he or she can prove that A) it is needed to survive, and B) you were the primary earner. We help you negotiate that figure – which must be a reasonable amount – when necessary. If you and your former spouse cannot agree to a number, you must say so in your separation agreement so the Tennessee courts can determine the amount to grant.
The benefits awarded to service men and women differ from those of the average civilian. It is crucial that you retain an attorney who not only understands those benefits, but can also negotiate a fair agreement between you and your ex-wife or ex-husband. When negotiations fail, however, you can rely on LaFevor & Slaughter to fight aggressively on your behalf.
Agreements to dissolve the marriage are possible during deployment
You do not have to be physically present in the courtroom or our office to end your marriage. Sometimes when the marriage is not working you just want to put the stress of the relationship behind you, so you can concentrate on the assignment at hand. We have aided members of the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy (as well as active reserve and active duty guard) personnel in obtaining an agreed divorce while they were stationed in Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, on ships at sea and in states other than Tennessee. As long as Tennessee has jurisdiction, our office works with you by using available communications in order to provide effective dissolution of the marriage by agreements.
Child custody and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
When you deploy, you leave your family behind. This is hard enough without the added struggles of fighting over support and custody. You can seek – and be granted – primary custody of your child, but only if the court believes it is in the child’s best interest to give you custody. If you are on active deployment, or if you are stationed overseas, the court may deem it best for the child to grant custody to your former spouse.
We understand first-hand how this may seem like you are being punished for your service. In some cases, we may be able to turn to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which grants a stay in civil proceedings for active duty service members. Whether or not the SCRA is applicable depends on many factors, including how long you are deployed, where you may be stationed, and whether or not it is best for your child to live primarily with you. Tennessee courts do not always allow for a stay if they deem it best for your child to make a decision about permanent residency more quickly, but we will discuss and analyze your situation to determine whether or not the SCRA applies.
What you should know about child support
Child support calculations are made by the state of Tennessee, and apply to military parents and civilian parents alike. All branches of the military require “adequate support,” but not all branches use the same definition of “adequate.” At LaFevor & Slaughter, we protect your rights and your child’s future when it comes time to calculate child support amounts.
Trust the Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter to protect you the way you have protected all of us
We understand that you are facing a difficult and emotionally trying time. Divorce is never easy, and tough decisions must be made. At the Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter, we make sure you have the information you need in order to make those decisions. To discuss your situation at our Knoxville office, please call 865-637-6258 or contact us online.