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Military Divorce

The rate of divorce in the United States has risen over the years and the military divorce rate has also gone up. A military divorce is not as complicated as you would think. The same divorce requirements for civilians apply to the members of the military. The main distinction is that some jurisdictions relax the residency requirements for soldiers that are overseas or are stationed on military bases outside of the court’s jurisdiction.

There are a number of other things to consider when it comes to a military divorce such as spousal maintenance, child custody and child support. An experienced military attorney can help you deal with military benefits and pension division and child custody and visitation because these are the two main issues that are complicated due to military service.

Phoenix Military Divorce Lawyer

The Daly Law Firm represents clients going through military divorces in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. If you or your spouse is in the armed forces it is best to contact a military divorce lawyer to explore your options. Contact the Daly Law Firm for an analysis of your case at (480) 607-8308 for a free initial consultation. A military divorce is a difficult event for all the members involved. With the help of a compassionate, understanding divorce attorney, you can get through a military divorce process as smoothly as possible.


Military Divorce Information Center


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What is the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act?

States have enacted many “Service Members Civil Relief Acts” in order to protect soldiers from getting divorced without their knowledge. The main purpose of the Act is to delay the divorce proceedings for the time the soldier is on active duty and for up to 60 days after active duty.

The Soldier and Sailors Civil Relief Act is Arizona’s law that protects soldiers from default divorces or divorces finalized without their knowledge. Arizona’s Act states that the divorce proceeding may be postponed for the entire time the active service member is on duty and for 60 days thereafter. Arizona’s law also allows the active duty service member to waive the right of postponement if he or she wants the divorce to continue in their absence.


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My spouse is on active duty. How do I serve the divorce papers?

The same jurisdictional rules apply to military and civilian divorces. The active duty spouse must personally be served with a summons which gives notice to the service member that a divorce proceeding was commenced in an Arizona court. In order for the military service member to fall under Arizona’s jurisdiction:

  • The spouse filing for divorce or receiving divorce papers must reside in Arizona for at least 90 days.
  • The spouse filing for divorce or receiving divorce papers must be stationed in Arizona for at least 90 days.

The grounds for a military divorce are the same as for a civilian divorce in Arizona. The petitioner only needs to allege that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”


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How is a military pension calculated?

A military pension is determined by the cost of living, disability benefits and duration of military service. Military retirement benefits are determined on a point-structure so if a service member stays in the military for 20 years then they would get about half of their base salary in retirement. If the service member stayed in the military 30 years or more they can get up to 75 percent of their base pay.

It is important to hire an accountant and a lawyer familiar with military pensions so that you are able to calculate the correct portion of military benefits the former spouse is entitled to receive after the military divorce.

Typically an ex-spouse is entitled to half of the retired pay in addition to the cost of living adjustments. If the parties get a divorce and the soldier continues to serve in the military then there is an issue of whether the ex-spouse should receive money from the number of years served as of the divorce date, or based on the ultimate time served.

For example, if the service member was in the military for 15 years then got a divorce. He continues to serve for another 15 years making a total of 30 years military service. Is the ex-spouse entitled to half of 30 years service or half of 15 years service because she was only married to the service member for 15 years? There is no hard line rule on this situation so it is important to talk to experience legal counsel when calculating military retirement benefit allocation during divorce.


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How is property divided in a military divorce?

The federal government has enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs or controls how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided in the event of a divorce. The USFSAP authorizes a direct payment of a portion of a military retirees pay to the former spouse.

The federal law does not divide and distribute military members’ retirement benefits to the ex-spouse unless they have been married ten years or longer while the member has been on active duty in the military.

Federal law directly addresses retirement benefits but as far as physical property like real estate and vehicles and portable property such as house hold appliances, the divorce court in Arizona will have to divide that up. Sometimes active military members are at a disadvantage in this respect because if they are stationed overseas they will need to have someone look after the real estate or other property. The spouse who is closes to the property could have a better case for maintaining and managing the property.


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How does child support get calculated in a military divorce?

Under Arizona law both the child support and spousal support combined payments may not exceed 60% of a military member’s pay and allowances. Due to Arizona’s policy of the best interest of the child, the child support guidelines must be met so the same worksheets and schedules are used to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid. The main considerations in determining child support are listed below:

  • Adjustments to income prior to calculation of support -

    Arizona allows you to use your gross income instead of net income when calculating which financial schedule you fall under for child support payment. Other considers factor into the income adjustment such as other children you are already supporting and spousal maintenance or alimony obligations.

  • Additional childrearing expenses besides basic child support -

    Every case is different, but examples of additional childrearing expenses are things like health insurance, extraordinary educational expenses such as private school or special needs education.

  • Adjustments for Older Children -

    Arizona’s policy is older children cost more to support than younger children so in light of that premise the guidelines allow up to a ten percent adjustment for older children.

  • Low Income Adjustment -

    If the noncustodial parent’s income will be less than $710 a month it is possible to get a low income adjustment to ensure the non-custodial parent is able to maintain a minimum standard of living.

  • Cost Associated with Parenting Time -

    Arizona law recognizes that the non-custodial parent will provide basic childcare obligations during visitation so there is a provision that allows the non-custodial parent to offset some child rearing costs from the child support obligation.


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Resources

Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) - information about army pension and retirement benefits along with information about military divorce

United States Army - the US Army is a key component of the US Armed Forces with soldiers that protect the nations freedom both abroad and at home.

United States Navy - The Navy protects trains and equips naval vessels in order to protect the country in the event of war.

United States Marines - Elite military unit trained to protect the country during war.

United States Air Force - The Air Force maintains planes and jets to aid in war efforts.


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Daly Law Firm | Scottsdale Military Divorce Attorney

The Daly Law Firm represents clients going thorough military divorce in the greater Phoenix area, including: Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe, Peoria, or surrounding areas of Maricopa County, Arizona. If you have been served with divorce papers or you are contemplating a divorce, contact an experienced Scottsdale divorce attorney at the Daly Law Firm at (480) 607-8308 for a free initial consultation.

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