First, your spouse cannot run off and file for divorce while you are away on military deployment. Under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, the Virginia courts are required to stay the case when service renders a person unable to attend court proceedings. The court must wait until your return to properly adjudicate the merits of the non-military spouse's claims.
Second, when determining your gross income for the purpose of child and spousal support, many of your benefits go into that calculation. The courts do not just look at your standard salary. They will add things like your basic housing allowance, sea pay, and wartime increase to your standard monthly check. Anything the military gives you that adds to your disposable income could substantially increase the support the court requires you to pay. Furthermore, the court will not necessarily take into account that these benefits will dissipate in future, but will rather look at these benefits at the time support is being determined.
Thirdly, your spouse does not automatically receive half your pension. In Virginia, the amount of retirement is strictly limited to a maximum of one half. What the courts look at in determining this is the amount of time you were married while earning retirement divided by the amount of years of your service. This number is then multiplied by fifty percent. For example, take a ten year marriage where one spouse has served twenty years in the armed forces (ten during the marriage), the ten years is then divided by twenty which equals fifty percent. That fifty percent is then multiplied by fifty percent. The result is twenty five percent, which is the percentage of your retirement that your wife is entitled to, clearly less than half.
Finally, if you have children it is important to understand how your career can affect custody. If your career causes you to constantly deploy or relocate, a court maybe more inclined to award custody to the non-military spouse, as they may provide a more stable environment. In anticipation of this, the spouse should explore alternatives, such as seeking a more permanent posting, leaving the military for a more lucrative civil position, or using the GI Bill to go back to school for a second career.
Serving your country is a noble and worthwhile endeavor, however, it crucial to understand the impact it can have on divorce. Consult a military divorce lawyer to understand the military
This is not to be construed as legal advice and does not create attorney client relationship. All cases are different and should be reviewed by a lawyer to determine each person best case scenario.