Divorce and the Military
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May 7, 2021

Divorce and the Military

Divorce and Family Law

divorce military arizona
Divorce and the Military

 What happens when you or your spouse is in the military, and one of you wants to get divorced? While a seemingly simple question, the answer is a bit more complicated than one might think. Divorce for those in the military—or their spouses—is similar to divorce for civilians, but there are a few important nuances to be aware of.

At The Valley Law Group, we offer experienced, knowledgeable legal support to people in various divorce situations. This post will briefly explain the difference between military and civilian divorces in Arizona as far as legal processes are concerned.

What’s the difference between a military divorce and civilian divorce in Arizona?

 There are some differences in Arizona when considering a military divorce that differentiates it from just a civilian divorce. There are specific state and federal laws and rules that can apply to your situation in this case. One important distinction is that active-duty military members cannot be held in “default” during divorce actions.

What is a default in the context of a divorce? It means that one spouse—the spouse who was not the one filing for divorce—failed to respond to the other spouse’s divorce filing (i.e., they did not show up to court or respond to the complaint). However, because active-duty military members will be unlikely to do these things due to the nature of their position, they are protected from default divorce judgments.

Furthermore, a divorce proceeding can be postponed for the duration of active military duty for the military spouse. The divorce proceeding can also be postponed for up to sixty days after military duty ends. But, an active-duty military member can waive this right if they agree with their spouse that the divorce should happen.

Finally, grounds for divorce are no different in a military divorce than a civilian divorce. Arizona is a “no-fault” state, which means that neither spouse needs to give a reason for the divorce, unlike in other states. In Arizona, the marriage needs to be “irretrievably broken,” whether for a civilian or military divorce.

How do I serve my spouse who is on active duty?

 Unlike a civilian, it is more complicated to serve a spouse on active duty, as this person may be halfway around the world. The important element of this is establishing jurisdiction for the state of Arizona if that is where you wish to file the divorce.

For Arizona to have jurisdiction over the active-duty military member, you will still need to personally serve them with a summons and a copy of the divorce action. To file in Arizona, you or your spouse need to reside in Arizona, or you or your spouse need to be stationed in Arizona.

Yet, if the divorce is uncontested (which means both parties agree to the divorce, at least for legal purposes), the person may not have to be served. He or she can sign a waiver affidavit that says that he or she is aware of the divorce, and this affidavit is subsequently filed.

What about military benefits?

 You might be wondering what happens to military benefits when a divorce happens. This area is covered by Arizona law and federal law and determines how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided between parties when a divorce happens.

However, under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, the military spouse may be required to pay the former spouse a portion of their retiree pay. Still, federally, the couple must be married for at least ten years while the member has been on active duty for the retirement benefits to be divided between the spouses.

What about child support and military members?

Last, in Arizona, the usual child support guidelines are used in these cases. Still, the combination of child support and spousal support alimony cannot be more than 60% of the military spouse’s pay.

Call a trusted, experienced attorney today.

If someone is an active military member, this can make divorce a bit more complicated and challenging. Our thoughtful, trustworthy attorneys work hard to assist you through a trying time as you prepare for and execute a divorce. The Valley Law Group, we will be there for you every step of the way in navigating this emotional and hard time in your life. Call us today at (480) 418-6420 for your free consultation.


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