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What are your rights if your military spouse abandons you?

The military lifestyle is definitely challenging for most families. Many Arizona spouses can relate to trying to hold down the home front while a spouse serves combat duty or a peace assignment overseas. Beyond the normal course of duty in the U.S. military, households where one spouse is a service member also encounter the typical problems known to civilian families, as well.

Balancing your time between caring for your children and providing support to your spouse both state-side and abroad can be a rewarding yet difficult experience. The U.S. military provides support to its members and their spouses in all matters of family life, including support for spouses and children when a military service member abandons his or her family.

It's sad but it happens

It can be tempting to not want to discuss such topics; however, isn't it much better to speak with someone well-versed in military divorce and family laws so that you know what your rights are and how to protect them if a problem like this arises. If your spouse abandons you, there is no divorce, so you are still married.

Still married means, still entitled

If you are still a military spouse, that means you still qualify for benefits, such as housing or housing allowance funds, medical care and access to officials who can help you locate your spouse and obtain financial support for yourself and your kids.

Why getting a court order may be your best bet

The U.S. military cannot garnish your spouse's pay without an order from a civil court. Whether you reside on or off post, as a military spouse, you are likely entitled to installation support services, which may include counseling and additional resources to help you take legal steps to obtain financial support from your spouse.

Repercussions for abandonment

Your spouse may be subject to punishment under military law if he or she refuses to pay support. There are exceptions to the rule that would incur a waiver, such as if you have gainful employment and your income is higher than your spouse's military pay. If your spouse claims to have fled a domestic violence situation, this would also be legitimate grounds for an exemption.

Getting the help you need

Facing abandonment from the person you vowed to spend a lifetime with is unquestionably devastating. You are definitely not alone in your struggle, however, as many other Arizona spouses have experienced similar situations. By reaching out for emotional and legal support as needed, you may be able to get life back on track and provide for the needs of your family. 

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