Commentary

November 15, 2013

Legal Office here helps untangle Arizona separation, divorce process

When couples tie the knot and say “I do,” most believe they will be together forever.

However, life happens. Sometimes couples realize their union was not meant to be and choose to separate or divorce.

Those with questions about legal separation or divorce can contact the Fort Huachuca Legal Assistance Office, or Legal Assistance. The office is staffed with attorneys and paralegals who can answer questions and assist couples in making parting less painful. This article will address the paperwork process, a couple’s rights and responsibilities during the divorce process, and what parents can expect when it comes to child custody.

Maricopa County has made its Family law forms available online. These include divorce, separation, child custody and child support petitions. Those who need any of these forms should visit the Maricopa County Superior Court website at http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/SuperiorCourt/Self-ServiceCenter/Forms/FamilyCourt/. People can download the forms in Microsoft Word®.

In Cochise County, the courts instruct parties to download these Maricopa County forms and simply change “Maricopa” to “Cochise.” Those who are unsure or have questions as they fill out the paperwork are invited to take advantage of the Legal Assistance Office walk-in hours to speak with an attorney.

There are some initial requirements couples have to meet before filing for divorce in Arizona. First, the couple has to have lived in the state for at least 90 days. Second, for those with minor children, Arizona only has jurisdiction to decide custody if the children have lived here with at least one parent for the past six months. But even for those who do not yet qualify to file in Arizona, it may be worth the time to sit down with an attorney to get advice about their particular situation.

One of the most frequent questions Soldiers and dependents have during the divorce process is what support a spouse is entitled to receive during and after the divorce.

During the divorce process, Army Regulation 608-99 outlines Family support, child custody and paternity. This regulation only applies when there is not a court order or a written financial support agreement between the parties.

Under AR 608-99, a Soldier is responsible to provide his or her Family with support equal to the amount of BAH II non-locality pay that corresponds to the Soldier’s rank. For example, an E-3 owes $681.00 a month, an E-5 owes $842.70 and an O-2 owes $984.30. AR 608-99 contains important exceptions to the general rule. For example, when the Family is living in government housing or when both parties are serving on active duty, the monthly support obligation does not apply.

When the court enters the final divorce order, that decree will divide debts, assets and parenting time. If the parties cannot agree on custody, the judge will use Arizona Revised Statute 25-403 to determine who can make legal decisions and how to divide parenting time according to what the court determines is in the best interest of the child.

The court has to consider anything that is relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being. This includes: the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child; the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest; how well the child can adjust to home, school and community; what the child wants, provided the child is of suitable age and maturity; the mental and physical health of the individuals involved; and which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent.

For additional information about Family law questions, visit the Fort Huachuca Legal Assistance Office. To reach someone by phone, call 533.2009.




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