How the Burden of War Effects Military Families
American news is filled with stories of how military families are increasingly undergoing greater transformation and stress due to our commitments around the world. For some families the price has been steep. According to Associated Press Reporter, Pauline Jelinek, “The divorce rate rose last year among soldiers and Marines.” The increase can be directly attributable to the heavy burden experienced by American military families, as a result of the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Numerous sources all point to the strain on these families caused by one or more deployments over the past five to six years.
As a Family Law attorney in Colorado, our law firm receives hundreds of calls every month from service men and woman regarding Colorado Divorce laws. Those same laws also come into play with respect to child custody and visitation, child support and spousal maintenance and other family law issues. The numbers of phone calls our law firm receives from service members has increased dramatically over the past few years as yet another indication of the impact war has had on military members.
All branches of the service have been impacted by the war efforts thereby resulting in an increase in the divorce rate. Army spokesman, Paul Boyce stated, “With increasing demands placed on Army families and soldiers, including frequent deployments and relocations, intimate relationships are tested.” When these relationships undergo the stresses of multiple deployments, many marriages can not hold up, and eventually fail. Because Colorado is a “No Fault” Divorce state, evidence of the stress caused by the deployments that have led to a break-up, or the break down in intimacy, is not the type of evidence that a court will allow. These stresses on military families have sad and sometimes tragic consequences. Here are some alarming statistics regarding divorce and the impact of war on military families:
- 3.7% of more than 84,000 married Marines divorced in fiscal year 2008, up from 3.3% in 2007.
- The divorce rate for the Air Force stayed at 3.5%
- The divorce rate for the Navy went down slightly to 3%.
- Army woman divorced at a rate of 8.5%, compared with 2.9% for Army men; Female Marine Corp members divorced at a rate of 9.2% while Male Marine Corp members divorced at a rate of 3.3%.
Children of deployed service members suffer just as much, if not more than a spouse during a deployment. I recently received an email from a service member, who told me that he is on his fourth deployment and it is now apparent that his two teen age sons are having a rough time while he is away. The kid’s school work, absences, and grades have been impacted by their Father’s absence. Many times the role of raising children is left for the spouse who stays home and has to assume an ever increasing role in supervising their children, which is not enough to compensate for the absent military parent.
There are many reasons that marriages fail or survive despite the pressures of military assignments and deployments. If you or someone you know is a military member or a military dependent, who is contemplating a divorce, it is vital that you seek expert legal advice to guide you through the process. Since the civilian court is the only means by which legal measures can be taken, a licensed member of the Colorado Bar Family Law Section should be the first person you contact when you have legal question about any family law matter.
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