Military service is about sacrifice. For women, in particular, sacrifice often includes their marriage. The divorce rate among female service members is more than twice their male counterparts.
The gap is even greater among enlisted women: according to a March 11, 2011 report in The Washington Post, 9 percent saw their marriages end last year, compared to 3 percent of male service members.
While the stresses and long separations that come with wartime deployment no doubt play a role-220,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, reports The Post, citing Pentagon statistics-the issue hits home, literally, in states like North Carolina, the site of major military bases, from the Army’s Fort Bragg and the Marine Corp’s Camp Lejeune to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
The Post reports research indicates military women also divorce at higher rates than their civilian peers while military men divorce at lower rates. This trend is particularly prevalent among military women ages 40 to 49 who are half as likely to be in their first marriage as civilian women the same age.
Separation and divorce add significantly to the stress of military life. When a service man or woman is separated, suddenly he or she must grapple with child custody and support issues, as well as alimony and property distribution agreements.
While North Carolina family lawyers can help minimize this stress and facilitate speedy resolutions, separation and divorce are invariably a difficult transition, making support from family and colleagues vital even after a divorce agreement has been finalized.
An estimated 30,000 single moms have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Post. By ensuring that appropriate custodial care and child support are in place before deployment, single moms can breathe easier and focus on the important and dangerous job at hand.
One theory as to why women in the military have higher divorce rates than their civilian peers is that women who are attracted to military life may be “less conventional,” as The Post article suggests, and less willing to stay in a bad marriage.
The military is taking the issue of divorce seriously-and developing programs to help prevent it, The Post reports. Each branch of the service offers programs focused on strengthening marriages, while support systems for returning veterans have also been improved.
Staff Sgt. Robin D. Duncan-Chisolm, who went through a divorce during her 2010 deployment to Iraq told The Post that the National Guard’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program was invaluable in helping her and her teenage son ease her transition back home.
“If you don’t have anybody to talk to or anybody to turn to, sometimes it gets a little difficult,” Duncan-Chisolm told the paper. “I’m glad I had that system in place.”
This news story was brought to you by Raleigh, N.C., divorce and family attorneys Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC. One of North Carolina’s most accomplished family law firms. Our dedication-and experience in all aspects of divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and property distribution are a great resource for North Carolina men and women enduring the emotional and financial stress of separation and divorce.
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