Military divorce is not the same as civilian divorce

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Military life is different from civilian life in almost every way imaginable. Work, family, free time – these all mean something different for members of the military.

Legal issues are different, too. Military divorce differs from civilian divorce in some meaningful ways. Here are a few of the most common issues that arise:

  • Retirement accounts: Often, during a divorce, retirement savings are included in the property that must be divided. When one spouse is in the military, however, this gets more complex. The military has its own rules that interplay with state law when it comes to things like direct retirement payments, benefits from the Thrift Savings Plan, and benefits from the Survivor Benefits Plan.
  • Child custody: Deployments and relocations are a fact of military life. Arizona courts often consider geographic stability when making child custody decisions. In military divorces, the court will need to balance the servicemember’s duty to the country with his or her right to parent.
  • Jurisdiction: Each state has different residency requirements for divorce. When the two spouses are living in different areas, or when they have moved frequently, it can be difficult to determine which jurisdiction has authority.
  • Availability during deployments: When a service member is deployed, duty takes priority. It can be nearly impossible to keep up with paperwork, meet deadlines or make child support payments on time. Special arrangements will need to be made to ensure everyone’s rights are protected.

These are just a few of the complexities that military divorce presents, both to servicemembers and to their spouses. For this reason, it is critical to enlist the help of an attorney who is experienced in this unique area of the law. No one who serves our great country should have to sacrifice the quality of their future simply because their marriage did not turn out as expected.