Military Divorce Vs. Civilian Divorce: What’s The Difference?

Understanding The Basics Of Military & Civilian Divorce

Military divorce is not the same as a civilian divorce. Military divorce is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA), which provides a division of military retirement benefits, property and debt, and consideration of military pensions.

When active members of the military file for a divorce, they must pass different circumstances that civilians do not have to. Military divorce can also be complicated by the division of military pensions.

These are only some differences between Military divorce and civilian divorce. A Gilbert divorce lawyer explains more about it below. 

Understanding The Basics Of Military & Civilian Divorce in Arizona

What Is The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that affects divorces and child custody. This law safeguards servicemembers from unexpected issues at home to make them focus on their missions. Therefore, the SCRA permits servicemembers to delay court duty that might influence their relationship with their kids.

The SCRA is a great advantage for servicemembers, but it can be stressful for non-military spouses, especially when servicemembers decide to constantly delay proceedings. Courts must offer a fair solution to balance the rights of civilian spouses and the military. 

Where Should I File My Divorce?

The most difficult decision to divorce usually happens when you move to a new state. In many cases, one spouse may have returned to the state they are originally from. 

If the spouse of an active duty military is involved, both parties must decide where the divorce will be filed. Courts must establish a valid jurisdiction for you and your spouse. Otherwise, the divorce will be denied. Bear in mind that federal law makes court orders in these situations only if both parties meet the special jurisdictional requirements. 

If you have doubts, contact an Arizona divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys have enough experience to help you out.

Active Duty & Child Custody

Similar to other divorce processes, state law defines child custody and visitation. However, active-duty families have other challenges that civilian families don’t, such as receiving orders that station the duty service members at a base in a different state. Or, receiving orders to deploy to many parts of the world. This can create a lot of stress for parents and children. 

You have the option of working with a court and the other parent when placing a custodial agreement. Do not forget that these agreements are usually subject to state laws. 

Military Divorce Support Calculation

There are two aspects to consider when calculating military divorce support:

Child Support

Active-duty servicemembers must support their children just like civilians. However, military earnings are different from civilian checks, so it may be challenging to see what a servicemember’s actual payment is. 

It’s recommended to figure out the active duty servicemember’s base pay, what the servicemember is paying for the child’s health insurance, and other daycare duties to determine what they should pay for child support. 

This information changes depending on the state, so we do not recommend doing the calculations on your own. Contact a Arizona divorce attorney before starting the process.

Spousal Support

Two laws affect military divorce. The first one is the state where the divorce takes place. The second is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act or USFSPA.

The USFSPA is a federal that that requires service members to accept the state’s statutes regarding alimony, child support, pensions, and paychecks. The USFSPA also allows the military to decide the right retirement pay. 

The couple’s marriage must last for a specific amount of time to be eligible for some benefits. These are some requirements:

  • Former spouses can get a portion of the service member’s retirement pay if the couple has been married at least for 10 years and the service member performed at least 10 years of military service.
  • Former spouses can access military benefits like healthcare and commissary if the couple has been married for 20 years minimum and the service member performed at least 20 years of military service.

A Top-Rated Mesa Attorney Lawyer Can Help

Our recommendation when filing for divorce is to first speak with an authorized Mesa divorce attorney because each situation is different. At My AZ Lawyers, we understand how complicated divorces can be, so we offer the best knowledge and service to help you navigate through the obstacles of a military or civilian divorce. Contact us now to obtain a FREE consultation. 

Contact Professional Family Attorneys In Arizona

Arizona Offices:

Mesa Location:
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Office: (480) 448-9800

Phoenix Location:
343 West Roosevelt, Suite #100
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Office: (602) 609-7000

Glendale Location:
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: (602) 509-0955

Tucson Location:
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701

Office: (520) 441-1450

Avondale Location:
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392

Office: (623) 469-6603

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