September 21, 2021
Spouses who go through a dissolution of marriage (divorce) are generally subject to the same laws regardless of either spouse’s veteran status. Each parent is entitled to fair and reasonable parenting time (physical custody), legal decision-making (legal custody), spousal maintenance (alimony), and property division. As long as at least one spouse has been domiciled in Arizona for 90 days, they may file for a dissolution of marriage.
Serving Papers When Military Spouse is Deployed
A few procedures within an Arizona dissolution of marriage, though, present obvious challenges when an active-duty military spouse is deployed across the country—or world. The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides some breathing room for deployed military personnel. Under the act, certain civil actions may be delayed for up to 90 days upon written request. It also provides protection against default judgments, which are sometimes granted to spouses when the other spouse does not respond to the legal papers.
How is Parenting Time Decided When One Spouse is Deployed?
As with any issue that needs to be resolved in a dissolution of marriage, courts heavily encourage parents to work out the parenting plan among themselves. Military personnel must draft a Family Care Plan, which includes important information about their minor children. If the service member is deployed, the Family Care Plan will help a qualified adult step in and care for the children.
Another option for military personnel includes drafting temporary parenting time arrangements. Remember: parenting plans are not permanent and can be modified under the right circumstances.
Is the Non-Military Spouse Allowed to Stay in Base Housing?
Theoretically, yes. Civilian spouses are generally allowed to live in base housing until the dissolution of marriage is finalized. However, most spouses have a difficult time living under the same roof while they are in the process of divorcing. In that case, the active-duty spouse must inform the garrison commander about the situation, who will announce temporary living arrangements. The non-military spouse will cease to be a military dependent once the dissolution of marriage is finalized, though, and will no longer be entitled to military housing.
Circumstances can get complicated, though, if domestic violence allegations are involved. If the military spouse is alleged to have committed domestic violence, the non-military spouse may pursue a military protective order. More often than not, the military spouse will have to relinquish military housing under the protective order. However, if the military discharges the abusive spouse, the non-military spouse’s spousal maintenance could be affected.
How Are Military Retirement Benefits Divided?
Pensions are complex assets to be divided in a dissolution of marriage, and military disposable retired pay is no different. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), non-military ex-spouses may receive up to 50 percent of the former service member’s disposable retired pay. More benefits may be realized by the ex-spouse if the marriage lasted at least 20 years and the service member performed military duties during that time span.
These rules don’t mean that non-military spouses are barred from receiving a portion of the disposable retired pay if the marriage lasted less than 10 years. This pay may also be garnished for child support or spousal maintenance. Lastly, remember Arizona is a community property state, which means both spouses are presumed to hold an equal ownership interest in marital property.
A dissolution of marriage involving military personnel is incredibly complex. Experience counts. Attorney Patrick Monahan is a veteran of the U.S. Army and understands what divorcing spouses are going through. Call today to talk to a Glendale divorce lawyer about resolving your legal matters.