Military Divorce FAQ

Phoenix & Scottsdale Family Law Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions About Military Divorce in Arizona

Military Divorce FAQ

Divorce is always hard, but members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and their spouses, face additional hurdles. What follows are answers to questions about military divorce. Being aware of additional issues specific to military divorce could make the process a little easier for you.

Q. How do I serve divorce papers on my military spouse?

A. The divorce documents must be served in person to your spouse, whether your spouse is on base, deployed overseas, on a submarine, or engaged in clandestine work. Moreover, your spouse must acknowledge receipt of the documents. Given the nature of many military assignments, this can be difficult if not impossible. The stateside court can appoint someone at the overseas location to serve the papers by temporarily making that person an officer of the court and eligible to serve papers. However, depending on where your spouse is stationed, serving divorce papers may violate the laws of the other country due to the Hague Convention. In these instances, you will need to file the summons and complaint with the central office of the Hague Convention. Because there are so many factors involved, having the advice of a knowledgeable divorce attorney is critical when trying to serve divorce papers on a military spouse.

Q. My child is overseas with my spouse. How can I obtain custody during and after the divorce proceedings?

A. You will need to apply to the foreign court if you are unable to resolve custody issues with your spouse. Developing an enforceable parenting plan together is preferable to putting your futures – and the future of your child – under the jurisdiction of a foreign court. If you are unable to agree with your spouse and need to deal with the legal system in the other country, know that any foreign court order you receive should include options for returning the child to the United States.

Q. Will I be able to get some of my spouse’s military pension in a divorce?

A. The short answer to that question is, “Yes.” However, the court must establish jurisdiction over the pension if the service member did not file the petition or objects to having an Arizona court assume jurisdiction. If there is no consent, the non-military spouse must file in the other spouse’s home state, which is the state listed on the Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).

Q. How can I enforce my military spouse’s child support & spousal support obligations?

A. If you are seeking spousal support or child support, you must send a written complaint to your spouse’s commanding officer requesting enforcement of military support obligations. A commander has several ways to enforce payment of ongoing support—reprimands, forfeited pay, pay deductions, or criminal sanctions. However, that officer cannot enforce payment of previously unpaid support or arrearages.

Q. Can I keep military health insurance (TriCare) after being divorced from my military spouse?

A. The answer to this question depends on how long you were married, how long your marriage overlapped with the military spouse’s service, and how long the service member has served. Generally, a 20/20/20 spouse (20 years married, 20 years of service, and 20 years of overlap) can expect to receive long-term health coverage. However, if numbers in the formula are smaller, then you may receive only temporary coverage or none at all. Moreover, your military spouse cannot decide the matter. Only the DAFS (Defense Accounting and Finance Service) can make that determination.

Contact an Experienced Arizona Military Divorce Lawyer Today

These few examples show that military divorces have additional processes and layers of complexity to navigate. This makes it critical to have the assistance of an experienced family lawyer who understands the requirements of a military divorce, wherever the service member is stationed.