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Domestic Relations

Legal assistance attorneys may provide general advice on the practical meaning of divorce, legal separation, annulment, custody and paternity. Representation of both parties in domestic relations cases by attorneys from the same legal office is prohibited. If both parties seek legal assistance from this office, then efforts will be made to refer one of the parties to a Legal Assistance Command outside the office or to a local civilian attorney.

Separation and Divorce

The following information is provided by the Coast Guard Legal Service Command Legal Assistance program. It includes a general explanation of terms used in connection with a separation or divorce and provides a brief overview of Virginia divorce law. It is intended only as general information. Each case is different, and you should consult a legal assistance attorney or a private attorney of your own choice to determine how the law applies to you. In some cases, a Coast Guard legal assistance attorney may be prohibited from discussing your case with you. For example, a conflict of interest would exist if a Coast Guard legal assistance attorney already discussed your case with your spouse. If so, you may be referred to another legal assistance office.

Even if a Coast Guard legal assistance attorney is able to discuss your case with you, he or she will be able to provide you with only general advice. A legal assistance attorney cannot represent you in court or draft court pleadings for your use in connection with divorce or child custody cases. However, he or she may, at your request, review legal documents that were prepared by you, your spouse, or your spouse's attorney.

Determining which state's laws apply is critical to determining where and how to terminate a marriage. This is particularly true with military members and their spouses who may have been married in one state, moved to another state, and may even be geographically separated. A legal assistance attorney can help you understand the legal terms and determine which state will most likely have jurisdiction in your situation. Important factors include: where you and your spouse currently reside, where you last lived together as husband and wife, and where you are legally domiciled. A court must have jurisdiction to be legally competent to grant a divorce. After you determine which state has jurisdiction to grant a divorce, you should consult an attorney licensed to practice law in that state.

General Information on Virginia & Federal Law

The following pages provide general guidance about divorce in Virginia, federal law, and Coast Guard policy. Again, each case is different, and you should consult an attorney licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction to determine how Virginia, or other state law applies to your specific situation.

Jurisdiction Separation & Divorce Property Distribution Support Issues
Child Custody Separation Agreements Uniformed Services Former Spouse CG Provisions

As you can see, separation and divorce raise a number of complicated legal issues. Coast Guard legal assistance attorneys are not allowed under Coast Guard policy to represent members involved in divorce or custody actions, but may be able to provide additional general information. Please contact Coast Guard Legal Service Command- Legal Assistance Center (CG LSC-LAC) at (757) 295-2306 if you have any questions. With the exception of the Coast Guard policy on support of family members, the above information is based primarily on Virginia law. Again, it is intended to provide only general information and each case may be different. Persons who live outside Virginia or who are involved in a divorce proceeding outside Virginia should contact an attorney licensed to practice in that state. The following web sites provide general information about divorce law in other states: As you can see, separation and divorce raise a number of complicated legal issues. Coast Guard legal assistance attorneys are not allowed under Coast Guard policy to represent members involved in divorce or custody actions, but may be able to provide additional general information. Please contact the Legal Service Command, Legal Assistance Coordinator at (757) 295-2306 if you have any questions. With the exception of the Coast Guard policy on support of family members, the above information is based primarily on Virginia law. Again, it is intended to provide only general information and each case may be different. Persons who live outside Virginia or who are involved in a divorce proceeding outside Virginia should contact an attorney licensed to practice in that state. The following web sites provide general information about divorce law in other states:

DIVORCE LAW IN THE 50 STATES (You're leaving a federal government web site.)

DIVORCE LAW (You're leaving a federal government web site.)

See IRS Publication 504 for the federal income tax rules concerning separation and divorce.

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Last Modified 4/28/2014