Military Retirement Pay and Divorce in Arizona
Military Retirement Pay and Divorce Explained
If you or your spouse is a member of the military and one or both of you is considering divorce and want to know about military retirement pay and divorce in Arizona, you may have a lot of questions that don’t seem to fit the general mold.
For instance, how is military retirement benefits divided during a divorce in Arizona?
The Uniform Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act gives each state the right to treat military retirement benefits as “marital property.”
While it does not divide military retirement benefits in a divorce mandatory, USFSPA recognizes that state courts have the right to distribute military retirement benefits in a divorce in Arizona to a former spouse in military divorces.
It also provides a method of enforcing the orders related to the distribution of military retirement benefits through the Department of Defense.
To utilize USFSPA, there must have been a portion of the former spouse’s military retirement pay awarded in the final divorce decree or decree of legal separation.
It is also important to note that while the family court system intends to divide marital assets “fairly and equitably” that does not necessarily mean the court will order an equal division of the military retirement benefits.
Division of Military Retirement Pay in a Divorce
Various factors will be taken into consideration, and all will vary depending upon the specifics of the case.
The portion of military retirement benefits designated as “marital property” can be defined in fraction form with the top number (numerator) designating the total number of months or years the two parties were married during the time of military service and the lower number (denominator) being the total number of months/years of military service.
Determining if there will be any retirement benefits and, if so, the exact amount of military retirement benefits a former spouse may receive as a marital asset may not be possible until the service member retires from the military.
Division of Military Retirement Pay in a Divorce
In Neal v Neal, 117 Ariz. 241, 571 P.2d 1037 (1976), the Court of Appeals reviewed a property division of military retirement pay. This included determinations relating to military pensions and whether they are considered to be community property in Arizona.
Mr. Neal and Mrs. Neal were married in 1952. The husband had joined the Air Force five months before they married. He stayed in service during the marriage. He retired in 1975 with a pension of $400 per month. That same year, the couple divorced.
Division of Military Benefits
Finally, Mr. Neal takes issue with the judge’s determination that his retirement was community property.
The Court of Appeals said that retirement pay is part of an employee’s compensation package. How much Mrs. Neal should receive depends on the laws of the state where Mr. Neal worked while married.
When a couple lives in a community property state the entire time a spouse works, all earnings are community property. Therefore, the other spouse gets 50% of the retirement pension.
However, this was not the case here. The husband joined the Air Force before the marriage. Then the couple first lived in Oklahoma which is not a community property state. All retirement pay attributable to the month’s Husband was single is his separate property.
The pension attributable to the time the couple lived in Arizona is community property. The wife is entitled to 50%. Some of the retirement pension is attributable to the couple’s stay in Oklahoma.
The trial court must determine how much Wife receives of that pension under Oklahoma law.
The Court remanded the case to the trial court to determine how the retirement pension should be divided.
If you need information about military retirement pay and divorce in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona community property attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona community property case around today.
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Chris Hildebrand wrote the information on this page about military retirement pay and divorce in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about community property laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.