Most divorces in Arizona abide by the same general rules. Arizona state law codifies the best interests standard for custody matters and the community property approach for property division issues. When couples are unable to settle their own divorce issues, they can turn to a family law judge to interpret state statutes and apply them to their family circumstances.

Some people believe that military divorces are subject to different rules than civilian divorces. In certain regards, that belief is correct. However, the standard laws of the state where the divorce occurs are what matters the most. The family courts will treat a divorcing service member the same as they would any other individual.

Differences are driven by military rules rather than civilian law. What about military divorces makes them different than civilian divorces?

They can affect your pay and benefits

Servicemembers tend to marry young and have children early in their marriages. In some sense, the military incentivizes marriage and parenthood by paying servicemembers according to their family status. Your housing arrangements and pay will likely change as a reflection of your divorce and the reduction in household size.

They require special custody considerations

An active-duty servicemember could get deployed during or after a divorce, complicating their circumstances substantially. When they have children, the possibility of a change to their location and schedule will require more flexibility with their parenting plan or custody arrangements. You will also need to update your Family Care Plan to reflect changed circumstances.

It is common for divorcing servicemembers to include a secondary plan with a different set of rules that will take effect during deployment or off-site training exercises. Deployment parenting plans often involve virtual visitation rules so that a parent can see and communicate with their children even when they cannot be physically close to them.

What someone says in court could affect your career

While it is true that civilian divorces sometimes have an impact on an individual’s profession, there are many more risks in a military divorce.

For example, allegations of misconduct that occurred while you were on duty or that involve another servicemember could result in disciplinary action. Claims of spousal abuse might eventually affect your ability to continue serving in the military, as domestic violence convictions can prevent you from legally owning a firearm.

Especially when emotions run high, the accusations that fly during a contentious divorce could affect your future career in the military more than the same allegations would likely affect a civilian’s professional hopes.

Recognizing the major differences between a military divorce and a civilian divorce can help you better plan for the upcoming end of your marriage.

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