Military personnel can take comfort from the fact that the procedures for a military divorce do not differ significantly from those for a civilian divorce whether one or both halves of the couple is on active service, a reservist or retired. The term ‘military divorce’ is not a legal definition, but rather a description of the circumstances. Every divorce is governed by state law, and the same procedures apply for military personnel and civilians alike. The reason people use the term Military Divorce or are looking for a Military Divorce Lawyer, is because there may be extra leg-work required due to a spouse being deployed overseas or in a combat area. The divorce rate for those in the military is much higher than civilian divorce rates. If you are filing for divorce with a military spouse, we’ve put together this information to help you understand the military divorce process in Arizona.
Military Divorce: How does it Work?
So, how does a military divorce work in Arizona? In order to file for divorce in Arizona with a military spouse, one partner must have lived in the state for a minimum of three months. The divorce must also be filed in the same county where the person petitioning for divorce is currently living. For those serving outside of Arizona, however, special conditions will apply. A free consultation with one of our attorneys at the Cantor Law Group will explain the procedure simply and clearly, and highlight any specific circumstances that need to be taken into account. You can reach our offices 24 hours a day at (602) 254-8880.
The other major issue surrounding divorce is child support. In Phoenix, and throughout Arizona, the courts take several factors into account when determining the level of income of each partner:
Gross income [to] include income from any source, and may include, but is not limited to, income from salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits (subject to Section 26), workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance. Cash value shall be assigned to in-kind or other non-cash benefits. Seasonal or fluctuating income shall be annualized. Income from any source which is not continuing or recurring in nature need not necessarily be deemed gross income for child support purposes.
Extra provisions are also made under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines which state: “Expense reimbursements or benefits received by a parent in the course of employment or self-employment or operation of a business shall be counted as income if they are significant and reduce personal living expenses.”
An example is the case of Hetherington v Hetherington where an Arizona court ruled that health insurance contributions made by the father’s employer should be included as gross income for child support purposes. Meanwhile, the case of Patterson v Patterson saw an Arizona court rule that the value of on-base housing for military personnel should be considered as gross income. In this instance, the non-cash benefit of on-base housing was included as income because it is an in-kind payment covering a necessary expense of one of the partners.
The Arizona courts have the discretion to include or not include any such expenses, and an experienced and knowledgeable Phoenix family lawyer will be able to offer relevant advice. The Cantor Law Group is highly proficient in the field, particularly with military divorces, and can provide expert counsel to help you successfully complete the divorce process.
Military Divorce Process in Arizona
A military divorce, whether contested or uncontested, follows the same pattern as a civilian divorce, and asset division, spousal support, child custody and support, and visitation rights are all matters that need to be resolved. There are additional issues around military divorces that need to be taken into account also, and it is here where the Cantor Law Group has particular expertise.
These issues include the effects of divorce on pensions; how active service influences child custody and visitation rights; the length of service and its effects on the non-military partner, and the serving of legal documents and other matters if the military partner is serving in another state or overseas. Also of importance is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act designed to maintain the rights of military personnel on active service, and the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act governing the resolution of issues regarding pension, health care and commissary privileges.
If you are in Phoenix or elsewhere in Arizona, please call (602) 254-8880, or email us to arrange a free consultation, and discuss how a Phoenix family lawyer can guide you through a divorce as smoothly and professionally as possible.