There’s a new bill floating around the legislature – SB 1373 – which will significantly change Community Property Law in Arizona by eliminating all military assets and benefits from community property division in divorce cases. We all want to protect the interests of the courageous men and women in our armed forces, many of whom are sent overseas to fight for our freedom. But we shouldn’t ignore the fact that their sacrifice is often matched by a spouse who remains at home to raise the children, pay the bills, work to make ends meet, keep the family afloat, and worry each and every day about her (or his) loved-one’s safety. By doing their part, these selfless spouses are also helping to protect our American way of life.
Marriage is a partnership. Each spouse plays a role. A stay-at-home parent who cares for the children is as important to the family as a working parent who provides the financial support. That’s the reason behind “Community Property Law,” which essentially gives each spouse an undivided 50% interest in all property and other assets acquired during the marriage (including retirement and military benefits).
This proposed bill (SB 1373) goes too far in its effort to protect our military by completely ignoring the sacrifices made by the brave spouse who stays behind. The effect of this law will be that if the parties divorce (even after a long-term marriage) the non-military spouse will have no interest at all in the retirement benefits or other military assets of the spouse who served in the armed forces. Often, these benefits constitute the lion’s share of the marital assets. If this law passes, then a divorce could leave the non-military spouse — who has also served our country by providing care and support for a military family — with nothing. For our legislature to completely overlook the important sacrifices made by the wives and husbands of servicemen-and-women would be a grave injustice. That’s why I oppose SB 1373. If you have strong feelings about this bill, one way or the other, please contact your elected representative.