If you are considering divorce and either you or your spouse is in the military, you have probably wondered how military pay is divided and how spousal maintenance and child support are determined. How do you handle the money issues in a military divorce in Arizona?
The first thing to know is that being in the military doesn’t change much about your divorce. You will still have to come to decisions about the division of your property and debts, parental decision-making and parenting time, child support and spousal maintenance, if there will be any. If you can’t agree on these issues, the family court will decide for you under Arizona law.
That said, there are a couple of significant differences between ordinary divorces and those that involve military service members.
Military retirement benefits and other privileges
Be aware that your military pension is generally divisible as part of the property division process, no matter the length of your marriage.
However, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will only distribute these benefits when the requirements of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) have been met. An attorney with experience in military divorces can ensure you meet these requirements.
The DFAS will also not distribute your military pension unless you were married for 10 years and the service member accrued 10 years of creditable military service during the marriage. This is often referred to as the “10/10 rule.”
In other words, you will need to divide your pension outside the DFAS process if you don’t meet the 10/10 rule and the USFSPA requirements. The military member would pay the divided benefits directly to the other spouse once they retire.
In addition to a share of the military pension, the non-military spouse may be eligible for medical, commissary and exchange privileges if they meet the 20/20 rule:
- The marriage lasted for 20 years or longer
- The service member earned at least 20 years of creditable military service during the marriage
- There was a 20-year overlap of marriage and military service
Spousal maintenance and child support
There are special military rules about the payment of court-ordered spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. The rules are meant to ensure that members of the military always pay these obligations. As a result, courts can order that spousal maintenance be garnished from the service member’s wages, in some cases. Or, the payments can be made through voluntary or involuntary allotment.
Get help with a military divorce
This is just a short overview of the financial issues involved in a military divorce. Your particular situation may be slightly different. An attorney with experience in military divorce can be a resource for you during the divorce process.