Arizona Military Divorce Information

Every divorce in Arizona is complicated. And whether contested or uncontested, they are still emotional and stressful. Divorce involves a wide range of issues, all of which must be addressed simultaneously: child support, custody and visitation, asset and debt division, spousal maintenance, pension and retirement division.

First of all, military divorce in Arizona is not an official subcategory of Arizona divorce law. In many ways, obtaining a military divorce is the same as obtaining a non-military divorce. Emotionally and financially, breaking up and choosing to end the marriage is no less challenging for service members than it is for civilians.

However, for active duty military and retired military, there is another layer of laws and potential complications. Because many of the family law issues, court proceedings, and state and federal laws are unique to service members as parties to a lawsuit, spouses are strongly urged to consult an experienced military divorce attorney.

How Military Divorce Differs from Civilian Divorce

Military divorce differs from civilian divorce in several important ways. For one, there are a number of U.S. laws and protections that apply to military members and their spouses as parties to civil lawsuits, such as divorce, legal separation, annulment, child custody, or paternity establishment. Key federal laws include the:

  • Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA): The SCRA suspends divorce and other civil lawsuits or administrative proceedings to protect active duty service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, certain activated National Guard, NOAA, and Public Health Service members. The SCRA revised and modernized the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) of 1940; and the
  • Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA): The USFSPA applies to the division of military retired pay as community property in a divorce. The USFSPA also gives the former spouse a mechanism for enforcing court-ordered spousal maintenance, child support, and child support arrears.

Arizona Child Custody in Military Divorce

With child custody, Arizona divorce law requires determination of legal decision-making and parenting time in the best interests of the child; it sets forth the requirement of a parenting plan. Any divorce, military or civilian, can involve contested child custody matters. But when a military divorce includes minor children, child custody proceedings may expand to invoke both the Hague Convention and Arizona’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

The U.S. is a member of the Hague Convention which controls many inter-country domestic relations matters. Among other things, the Hague Convention controls international recognition of divorce and legal separation, child custody, parent abduction of a child, recovery of child support, and service of process. The Hague Convention has considerable impact on the outcome of many military divorces.

The jurisdictional laws implicated in military divorce are complex, often difficult for parents, attorneys, and judges alike to interpret. Establishing Arizona as the child’s home state under the UCCJEA and dealing with international child custody orders issued by foreign governments are two examples.

Dividing Property in Military Divorce

Arizona divorce law mandates division of all marital property in a military divorce. This process of dividing assets and debts can be quite complex, depending upon the nature of the property being divided. As with all marriages, the longer the couple has been married the more marital property they are likely to have acquired.

You need a legal strategy for dividing property, retirement plans, military pensions, and other benefits. In part, that is because the USFSPA can have a profound impact on the division of retired military pay. But there are other benefits to consider as well, including Survivor Benefit Plan annuities, Thrift Savings Plan retirement options, and military disability benefits.

Experience Matters in Arizona Military Divorce

If you or your spouse is a service member, then you’ve already fought for your family. Be sure to obtain the best legal advice you possibly can for your family law case.
In addition to Arizona Military Divorce, our attorneys can assist you with legal separation; with establishing paternity if you are an unmarried parent; and with post-decree modifications to child support and custody (as with child relocation in a parent’s move away; or modification of legal decision-making and parenting time).