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Tuscon Arizona Family Law Blog

Arizona military parents facing divorce: Know your rights

The last thing you wanted in the weeks leading up to your deployment was for your spouse to file divorce papers. It happened, and now you are doing your best to come to terms with the situation. It may not have come as a great surprise because you knew your marriage was heading downhill; however, you'd hoped to talk more about it after you came back to Arizona.

Now it's done, and you feel stressed because, instead of preparing to deploy, you're busy worrying about child custody and other divorce-related issues. The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act may help you alleviate stress. The more you learn about this law before you deploy, the better.

Military divorce presents its own type of challenges

Military families face a number of challenges that other Arizona couples may not have to face. Over time, each spouse makes adjustments and learns how to handle these challenges. The same is true when the couple decides to divorce and challenges related to a military divorce need to be addressed.

One challenge is determining if and how retirement payments will be made to the nonmilitary spouse. If the spouse is entitled to receipt of a portion of the military member's retirement pay based upon the divorce decree, then it is possible for the Department of Defense to make direct retirement payments to the spouse under certain conditions. This option is only available if the couple has been married for a minimum of 10 years and at least one of the individuals was an active member of the military for at least 10 years of the marriage. Additionally, the military member is required to address the option of survivor's benefits upon retirement. This is a separate issue and should be addressed in the divorce negotiation process.

Divorce and retirement accounts

Financial concerns are often top of mind when an Arizona couple decides to end their marriage. How will property be divided, who will receive what financial assets and who will be responsible for which bills are important factors. The answer to these questions can have a significant impact upon the individual for years to come following the divorce.

Retirement accounts are often a significant financial asset to be considered. These accounts typically hold a large percentage of the couple's investment portfolio. Due to the nature of these accounts, they cannot simply be cashed out and the proceeds divided between the two parties. Depending upon each individual's age, there may be tax penalties associated with cashing out. However, this does not mean that part of them cannot be transferred to the other individual.

Divorce, college expenses and child custody concerns

In addition to the emotional aspects of divorce, there are a number of financial aspects that need to be considered. These aspects often include the division of assets, child support and even child custody concerns. The Arizona couple will want to address these concerns as a part of the divorce negotiations.

The everyday expenses involved with raising children are what generally come to mind as a part of this process. In addition to these expenses, the parents will also want to address their children's educational future. Specifically, they will want to address what role each parent will play in the financial aspects of their college education. How much will each parent contribute, how to handle possible changes in the parent's financial situation, what if the child decides to take time off before attending college and other important details are often better addressed as a part of the original divorce process.

Can you still use TRICARE after a military divorce?

Health insurance is a big deal for many people these days, especially as they age. With a large number of older couples divorcing, retaining health insurance becomes a priority during the proceedings.

If you were a military spouse who used TRICARE for your medical insurance, you may be able to keep it. If you qualify under the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, more commonly known as DEERS, you may sponsor yourself under your own Social Security number if your former sponsor (your former spouse) served at least 20 years that count toward retirement.

New law outlines who gets embryos after divorce

A new Arizona law will change how divorcing couples handle their frozen embryos. In the past, rulings regarding their use after divorce have varied, leaving couples without any meaningful precedents to follow. Now, parents who wish to have children using their embryos will be able to keep them regardless of their soon-to-be ex's wishes. 

The law went into effect on July 1, 2018 and states that whichever parent intends to use the embryos to have children may keep them in a divorce. If their ex is opposed to becoming a parent, then he or she will have no legal obligations or parental responsibilities and will not have to pay any type of child support. Opponents of this new law argue that although there is no legal responsibility, it would still force the other person into becoming a parent against his or her wishes. 

Seeking guidance on what to expect during divorce in Arizona

Many couples in Arizona and elsewhere may enter a marriage with the intent of remaining together throughout life. As studies suggest that as many as 50 percent of marriages result in divorce, this might not always be the outcome. Since dissolving a marriage is a major decision that could impact one's future, a person could benefit from taking the time to consider certain crucial topics before choosing a path.

Ending a marriage can be a stressful process, and since the outcome of a divorce will inherently affect a person's life, giving a fair amount of thought into the process is advisable. Once divorce is the decided outcome, a person could find it helpful to take steps to prepare for the process, such as researching Arizona state laws. This type of information could prove vital in preparing a person for subsequent negotiations.

Understanding how discovery works in a divorce

While every divorce is as different as every couple going through them, there are some elements that are common to many, depending on the process of divorce a couple chooses. Among the first steps the spouses should take when considering a divorce is seeking the legal guidance of an attorney who is experienced in the nuances of Arizona family law. Each party will need a separate attorney. Once the divorce petition has been filed with the appropriate courts, the opposing sides will begin the discovery phase.

Many legal actions have a form of discovery wherein both sides share with each other any relevant information that can be used in court. Discovery depends on each participant offering honest answers to questions and providing complete details about the issues in question. In that way, the court can better work toward a fair divorce order.

Child support and divorce

When an Arizona couple decides that it is time to end their marriage, there are a number of financial issues that need to be taken into consideration. Child support is often a concern when the couple decides to divorce. How much the individual will receive or will owe can affect a number of other decisions that the individual will need to make.

On the surface, child support appears to be a fairly easy number to calculate -- each individual is responsible for a set percentage. Each parent's income is stated, and the calculation can be made. Yet, there are a multitude of items that are taken into consideration in calculating this figure.

What to prepare for as a sole-custody military parent

Regardless of how you lost your significant other, raising a child as a single parent in the military can appear overwhelming. You may not know when you are going to get deployed and what will happen to your kids while you are away.

Given how unpredictable the circumstances are, you need to begin making a plan to ensure your loved ones are safe and cared for if you are deployed.

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