Thursday, June 30, 2005

Army Marriages May Be Casualty Of War

Army Marriages May Be Casualty Of War
Divorce Rate Soars, Especially For Officers


While U.S. casualties steadily mount in Iraq, another toll is rising rapidly on the home front: The Army's divorce rate has soared in the past three years, most notably for officers, as longer and more frequent war zone deployments place extra strain on couples.

Between 2001 and 2004, divorces among active-duty Army officers and enlisted personnel nearly doubled, from 5,658 to 10,477, even though total troop strength remained stable. In 2002, the divorce rate among married officers was 1.9 percent - 1,060 divorces out of 54,542 marriages; by 2004, the rate had tripled to 6 percent, with 3,325 divorces out of 55,550 marriages.

For those troops who do divorced, military breakups can pose unique legal and logistical challenges, especially when one spouse is deployed overseas.

Mark Sullivan, a former Army lawyer who now practices privately in Raleigh, N.C., says soldiers in often-deployed units may have trouble winning child custody and - when posted abroad - arranging visits from their children. In one recent case, Sullivan has represented a Tennessee father whose ex-wife is now seeking custody of their daughter because the man's National Guard unit was sent overseas.

Kidd said the divorce problem could get even worse, as long the campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere require frequent deployments.

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