Knoxville Family Law Firm for Active Duty Service People and Veterans
Tennessee attorneys protecting the rights of those who protect our freedom
The military life is a demanding one. When you or your spouse are deployed overseas, it’s even more challenging, and sometimes meeting these demands is more than your family can handle. The military looks at divorces and other family law issues as domestic matters – basically it’s your own business and not theirs – but there are some things to you’ll need to take into account if you, your spouse, or both of you are in the armed forces.
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.
A special focus on military divorce
The decision to dissolve your marriage is a difficult one in any situation. When you serve in the military, though, there are additional concerns that civilians don’t 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 (USFSPA) of 1983 gives 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 – and if you can’t, we work to ensure that you keep as much as you can.
- Survivor benefit plans.The USFSPA also governs the annuity granted to survivors when a service member passes away. Tennessee courts can mandate you 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, so it’s crucial you find 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 in Knoxville to fight aggressively on your behalf.
What kind of military family law matters does your firm handle?
When you need help with a family law issue, we’ll be there for you. Feel free to get in touch with us to talk over issues regarding:
- Military divorce
- Legal support for families during deployment
- Military child support and child custody
- Military child visitation
- Domestic violence in military homes
Can I get divorced while I’m deployed?
Yes, you can. You don’t have to be physically present in the courtroom or our office to end your marriage. Sometimes when the marriage isn’t working, you just want to put the stress of the relationship behind you, so you can concentrate on the assignment at hand.
We’ve helped members of the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy (as well as active reserve and active duty guard) personnel in obtaining a divorce while they were stationed in Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, on ships at sea and in states besides Tennessee. As long as Tennessee has jurisdiction, our office works with you by using technology in order to provide effective dissolution of your marriage.
Can my spouse divorce me while I’m deployed?
If you mean, can your spouse just up and divorce you without your knowledge while you’re busy serving your country? Heck no, they can’t do that. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) mandates that, if a service member is on active duty, divorce proceedings be postponed until they return, and can also be postponed up to 60 days after they’re off-duty. However, if you’re all good with going ahead with the divorce, you don’t have to wait. We can help with the process.
Can I still get custody if I’m an active member of the military?
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 firsthand how this may seem like you are being punished for your service. We do.
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 don’t always allow for a stay if they deem it best for your child to make a decision about permanent residency more quickly, but we can discuss and analyze your situation to determine whether or not the SCRA applies.
How does child support work for military parents?
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.
More information about military family law:
Trust the Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter to protect you the way you’ve protected us
Members of the military face more challenges in marriage and parenting than civilian families. We understand that you’re 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 schedule a consultation with one of our Tennessee attorneys, call us at (865) 637-6258 or fill out our contact form today.