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Members of the military perform a critical function for the country, but the constant deployments and demanding working environment can take a toll on their relationships. While many members of the military remain happily married for a lifetime, others find their marriages crumbling under stress.

When that happens, it is crucial for those military members to seek the right help and advice. Military divorces are not the same as those in the civilian world, and finding a divorce attorney in Arizona, with experience working with military relationships, is the best way to protect your rights and avoid common mistakes.

Divorce in the State of Arizona

The laws governing divorce also vary widely from state to state, so it is essential to choose an attorney with a deep understanding of the process and how it works in yours. Title 25 of the Arizona State Legislature describes all the laws that are associated with marriage and divorce in the state of Arizona. If you are a resident of Arizona, a divorce attorney with specific expertise in Arizona law is essential.

What is Military Divorce?

It is also important to define the term military divorce, so that both spouses have an understanding of the term and what it means. In the state of Arizona, a military divorce refers to a divorce in which one or both spouses is a service member, including those serving in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, Navy and Marine Corps.

In addition to those service members, others, including commissioned officers of the Public Health Service (PHS) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may also encounter issues related to the military as they embark on their divorce proceedings.

In some ways, getting a divorce in the military is much the same as getting a divorce in civilian society. Being a member of the military does not free you from the emotional devastation of a divorce, nor does it shield you from the potential for financial loss.

Divorce is never easy, whether it takes place between service members and their spouses or between two people who have never served. No matter where you are in your military career, however, you must understand the differences that exist in divorce proceedings. This knowledge will help you make wise decisions along the way, so you can end the marriage as amicably as possible and come out whole on the other side.

Most Common Questions about Military Divorce

In many ways, the issues surrounding a military divorce are much the same as the ones that happen in any divorce. Among the issues decided in a military divorce are:

  • Who pays the debts (credit cards, car loans, mortgage, etc. )
  • Which assets are community property, and which holdings did each spouse bring into the marriage?
  • Who gets the marital home, and how will the equity in that home be divided?
  • What happens to significant assets like military and civilian retirement accounts, investments, etc.?
  • Who gets custody of the children, and what is in the best interest of those minors?
  • Will spousal support be awarded, and if so, how much?

Each of these issues is critically important in any divorce proceedings, including those among members of the military. These kinds of decisions are typically negotiated no matter what types of jobs the soon-to-be ex-spouses hold. There are, however, specific issues that arise when the individuals are members of the military service, including:

  • How is the military spouse to be served with the divorce papers?
  • What happens if the spouse receiving the divorce papers is currently serving overseas?
  • What happens if the serving spouse does not accept the voluntary serving of divorce papers?
  • Who should care for the children if both parents are deployed?
  • What happens if the spouse serving overseas removes the children from U.S. soil and refuses to return?
  • What happens if the financial troubles leading to the divorce occurred as a direct result of one spouse’s military service?
  • Can the courts of Arizona exercise jurisdiction over the military pension of the serving spouse?
  • When will disability pay and military pay for retirees be considered to calculate child support and spousal maintenance payments?
  • How does a military pension figure into the division of marital assets?

These questions, while confined to divorces wherein one or both spouses is a member of the military, all are important. That is why it is so important to choose an attorney with specific expertise handing military divorces.

An attorney who lacks this kind of specific expertise may not know to ask about things like future military pensions or current disability payments. They may not realize the stress deployment places on soldiers, or of the financial impact of the divorce proceedings. They may not even know the proper way to serve the divorce papers, especially when the spouse being served is currently serving in a war zone.

Divorce is always hard, and while legal expertise can help reduce the stress of divorce, there will be issues you have to deal with on a personal level. The end of marriage is bound to be a traumatic experience, but having the right knowledge can help you protect your interests and minimize the financial, legal and emotional devastation the divorce is bound to produce.


Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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