What Makes a Military Divorce Different?
Our Mesa AZ Military Divorce Attorney Explains Legal Issues
Divorces in Arizona are difficult for everyone involved no matter what the circumstances. But military divorces can be even more challenging for many different reasons. That's why it's critical for everyone involved to be fully aware of all the legal issues before filing for divorce in Arizona.
Our Arizona military divorce lawyers at Brown, Naegle, Crider & Jensen, LLC have extensive experience working with families dealing with divorce in Maricopa County and throughout Arizona. We understand the legal issues involved and different approaches military families should consider before filing for divorce.
So whether you're stationed at Luke Air Force Base or another military installation in Arizona, we strongly urge you to contact our law firm and schedule an appointment at one of our 8 offices statewide, including offices in Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tucson.
Common legal issues
No matter whether or not you're in the military, you will likely need to resolve the following issues with your spouse before your divorce can be finalized. Such issues include:
- Division of assets
- Spousal Maintenance/Alimony
- Child custody (legal decision-making)
- Child visitation (parenting time)
But unlike other divorces, ones involving people actively serving in the U.S. military or reserves often raise a wide range of legal issues. The same is true for retired military personnel.
In particular, if a spouse is deployed overseas, that active duty member can request that the divorce proceedings be put on hold (known as a "stay"), according to rights granted in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The initial stay is for 90 days. That deadline can be extended if the active duty military member is deployed overseas.
Another common legal issue that often arises during divorce proceedings concerns the division of the retired military personnel's pension. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), a federal law, governs how military pensions are divided after a divorce. And the 1982 law clearly states that it's up to state courts to decide how a retired military member's pension is divided and that such assets should be treated as marital property.
Where should I file for divorce?
Military families often move a lot - from one state to another, or even from one country to another. Many active duty military members are also often stationed overseas for weeks, months or even years at a time. They might have even been married in one state and own houses in one or more states.
Since divorce laws vary from one state to another, it's important to consider the implications of filing for divorce in a particular state. In Arizona, divorce is officially referred to as a "dissolution of marriage." In Arizona, only the Superior Court can grant a divorce. Therefore, you will need to file divorce papers with the Clerk of the Superior Court in Family Court in a Superior Court in Arizona. There are four locations where you can do so in Maricopa County - two in Phoenix, one in Mesa and another in Surprise, Arizona.
As far as the division of assets in Arizona, the distribution of marital property is often done based on community property principles. That means that a spouse's separate assets remain separate after the dissolution of the marriage and assets that the couple owns equally is divided in half unless circumstances warrant an unequal division. But such rules can vary from one couple to another. That's why it's critical that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
How we can help
There are many complex legal issues that need to be considered in any divorce. A divorce involving retired or active duty military personnel simply adds another layer of complexity. That's why it's critical that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible about your legal concerns.
As your attorney, we can review the details of your case and offer specific advice on how to handle your divorce. In addition to the issues outlined above, other issues that make military divorces different involve:
- Health care for non-military spouse and whether he/she is eligible for TRICARE
- Wage garnishment and dealing with Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)
- Division of a Thrift Saving Plan (TSP)
- Division of a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
Many other issues can often arise during divorce proceedings involving people who serve (or have served) in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. And each one of these issues needs to be carefully considered to determine the long term impact and tax implications.
We can help you every step of the way. Simply contact our law firm and schedule an appointment right now.