Military Divorce: What You Need to Know

When filing for divorce in Arizona or obtaining a military divorce, you must follow the state’s jurisdiction. All issues related to your military divorce will be handled by the state’s court. Before filing for a divorce, you must be a resident of Arizona for at least 90 days–but there are a few exceptions. A divorce petition can be filed here without a domicile requirement if your spouse has been stationed here for at least 90 days. Any questions you have on a military divorce can be answered by experienced divorce lawyers in Prescott, AZ, but our hope is that the information shared below will help guide you.

What Is the Process for Serving Divorce Papers on a Spouse in the Military?

If you are a military spouse considering divorce, you should be aware of the process and procedures involved. Personal service is required for serving divorce papers on a military spouse. This means you must hire a process server to hand-deliver the documents to your spouse. The process of finding and serving military spouses can often be challenging, so extra care should be taken. You can often serve divorce papers on your military spouse with the help of the commanding officer.

You must file a summons and complaint with the Hague Convention’s central office to serve papers in another country. This office will assist you in coordinating the service process with authorities in other countries. Whenever possible, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified divorce attorney in Prescott, AZ.


Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) describes how military retirement benefits are divided during divorce under the USFSPA. Military retirement assets can be divided according to state divorce laws under this act.

Counting how much of a person’s retirement is earned from service before and after marriage can be a difficult process. When spouses divorce, the USFSPA Act discusses how retirement benefits should be divided. In addition, the act is complicated by what part of the benefit is converted to disability, which can affect how you divide military retirement benefits with your spouse.

To avoid misunderstandings down the road, it’s important to include timeframes in the final divorce order regarding when the retiree will apply for benefits. By doing so, you’ll avoid any potential disputes in the future.

Civil Relief Act for Service Members

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (formerly Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act) protects personnel of certain Federal Government agencies. Service members in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, and officers in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are subject to the law.

Servicemembers under the Servicemembers Relief Act are protected from lawsuits. This law allows active duty personnel to request different types of stays while on active- duty. Their participation in legal proceedings may be materially affected by their duties.

SCRA is only intended to be temporary. To qualify for an automatic stay under SCRA, service must have a negative effect.

Do Arizona Military Divorce Laws Follow the 10/10 Rule?

In Arizona military divorce laws, the date of separation is considered the end of the marriage. To calculate benefits and divide assets under this law, the length of your marriage from the date of marriage to the date of divorce is taken into consideration.

If you have been married for less than ten years, and are not eligible under the 10/10 Rule, you will receive your retirement payments according to how long you were married.

When You Don’t Meet the 10/10 Rule

If you don’t meet the requirements of the 10/10 Rule, you can either have your spouse deliver payments or set up automatic transfers. In the first option, your spouse is on the hook for compliance, which might be more challenging. The other option is to set up automatic transfers to ensure timely and full payments.

For advice on how to enforce the 10/10 Rule, consult a family law attorney in Prescott beforehand. In this way, potential conflicts can be avoided.

Arizona Military Divorce Laws: How Does Child Custody Work?

Parents who get divorced often have to deal with child custody arrangements. It is especially true if one or both parents are in the military. Divorcing military couples in Arizona need to know a few things about Arizona child custody laws.

As a first step, parents in Arizona can enter into a parenting agreement and retain as much control as possible. It is good news for military service members who are frequently deployed or must move around. In case of an inability to reach a parenting agreement, the court will decide based on state law.

The non-military spouse may have to shoulder more of the childcare burden if the military spouse does not have regular visitation. Arizona law determines child custody determinations, so it’s important to consult with an experienced family law attorney in Prescott, AZ, to understand your rights and obligations.

The Division of Military Retirement Pay as Community Property

Assets and debts must be divided equitably when a couple divorces. Included in this is military retirement pay. This is outlined in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).

Military retirement pay is allowed to be treated as marital property under USFSPA. As a result, the state can divide it between the former spouses. When a couple divorces in Arizona, all community property is divided equally. During a marriage, any portion of military retirement pay earned is community property. Military retirement pay earned before marriage is considered separate property of that spouse and cannot be divided.

Military retirement pay can be divided into community property in two ways: fixed amounts or percentages of the total payment. Regardless of whether the retired service member’s income or expenses change, the former spouse will receive a fixed amount each month. Based on how long they were married and how long they served in the military, the former spouse will receive a percentage of the retiree’s monthly income.

How Much of the Service Retirement Is Divisible?

During a divorce, military retirement pay is subject to division. Disposable retired pay is the remaining amount after specific pension items are removed. Deductions include advanced pay, court-martial fines, disability pay, and survivor benefit plans. There will also be a deduction for debts owed to the US, such as advanced pay.

A complication arises from the fact that a service member can exchange retirement pay for disability pay. Except for disability compensation received from the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability pay cannot be divided in a divorce. In some cases, service members who exchange retirement pay for disability pay after a divorce may receive less than they expected.

Child Support and Alimony in Arizona Military Divorces

A couple getting divorced while one or both are still in the military has some unique considerations. Fortunately, Arizona follows the same guidelines for alimony and child support as other states. When it comes to support orders and payments, there are a few things to keep in mind. To start with, alimony cannot exceed 50 percent of the pay and allowances of the paying spouse. This holds regardless of the state in which you file for divorce or reside.

The commanding officer of either spouse’s military unit is legally required to implement family support orders, which is another item to be mindful of. Thus, the unit commander may take action if one party does not make the court-mandated payments. If you find yourself in this situation, you can benefit greatly from the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer in Prescott.

Can I Make My Military Spouse Comply with Support Requirements Without Court Orders?

You may be wondering what your alternatives are if you are a military spouse who is not getting the support payments that the court has ordered. The good news is that you do have some options for legal action. According to family law in Prescott, AZ, you can request the execution of the support duties by writing a formal complaint to the commander of your spouse’s unit. If your spouse is not making their payments as agreed, the commander can penalize them, take their salary, or even prosecute them.

But, it’s crucial to remember that in the absence of a court order, the commander cannot compel spouses to pay child support or spousal maintenance following a divorce. Therefore, you must obtain a court order as quickly as possible if you owe money on any of those accounts.

If you have questions about Arizona’s military divorce laws, you should consider contacting Willison Law, PC. As a Prescott divorce attorney and family law professional, Stephanie has the experience to represent clients in divorce and family law cases successfully.


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