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Military divorce is hard -- alimony makes it easier

There are a lot of challenges military spouses face, especially when it comes to having a career. Arizona employers are sometimes hesitant to take a chance on employees who might not be around for long. Maybe you have even experienced this yourself. If so, and you are now going through a divorce, you know how important alimony is.

But you have more to think about than just family law. Unlike civilian divorces, both Arizona state law and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act -- the USFSPA-- apply to military divorces. Understanding how both laws affect divorce is important.

What does the USFSPA do?

If your soon-to-be ex is still an active duty servicemember, it is possible that he or she will PCS (Permanent Change of Station) in the near future. That move will probably take him or her out of the jurisdiction of the court that issued the spousal support order. This can make it hard to actually enforce the order. Even though most servicemembers understand how important it is to continue making their monthly payments, a small number might consider no longer paying.

The USFSPA compels the U.S. military to act when its servicemembers violate divorce orders from states other than where their current station is. It also gives servicemembers encouragement to meet their court-ordered obligations. Those who do not make their alimony or child support payments can face administrative discharge.

Can I get more than alimony?

Like most couples, you probably talked about your plans for retirement. Those plans most likely included your ex's military retirement benefits. So, what happens to the benefits that you were banking on for your future?

You can still receive a portion of those retirement benefits, even after divorce. To qualify, you need to have been married for 10 years or longer, and your spouse must have served for at least 10 years. If you were married for 20 or more years with your spouse serving for 20 years or longer, you can also keep things like your health care and access to the commissary.

Protect your future

Most people do not go into marriage thinking that they will just file for divorce later on. This means that very few people are adequately prepared for divorce. Finances can even be a significant barrier to seeking divorce.

It is understandable that you are worried about your financial security in the future, and that might even give you the motivation to stay proactive throughout your divorce. One of the best ways you can do this is to learn as much as possible about alimony, retirement benefits and your rights. You should be sure to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you better understand this and other details of your military divorce.

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