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What are the most common causes of divorce in the military?

If yours is one of many Virginia families with one or both spouses serving in the U.S. military, you can likely relate to many of the challenges your fellow service members face in trying to balance marriage, family life and military duties. Perhaps you or your spouse are currently deployed or have just recently come back home from an overseas assignment.  

Adjusting to deployment and re-adjusting to stateside living often causes marital stress. Current data shows that military marriages, in general, might be less likely to end in divorce than marriages among civilians. However, several types of issues and situations seem to negatively affect marital relationships when one or both spouses are military service members. If your marriage is in trouble, know that you are not alone and that support is available.  

Military issues that put strain on a marriage 

Although you no doubt try to create a lifestyle with your spouse and children that mirrors family life in the average home, you also understand that military life is, by nature, unique in many ways. You may have to relocate from time to time if you are a full-time military family. That, in addition to the issues mentioned in the following list, can cause serious marital stress

  • Lengthy deployments create more strain than some marriages can bear. If you or your spouse receives short assignments away from home, it might not be as difficult as serving abroad for six months or longer at a time. 
  • Current statistics suggest that military marriages where the service member is female may be at higher risk for divorce than those where husbands are the ones serving. In fact, the divorce rate seems to double when wives are military personnel.
  • Divorce rates also appear to increase when a military spouse has served in a combat arena.
  • Marriages that include a military spouse who has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are at significant risk for divorce. 
  • Extramarital affairs, especially in situations where a spouse is deployed for a long time, are problematic in many military marriages. Infidelity is a leading factor in many divorces, not only for those in the military but civilians as well.  

You may be aware of whatever types of resources your military unit has available to help married couples facing problems in relation to their military service. You may find it helpful to talk to other military spouses, especially those whose situations are similar to yours, such as those who have children if you are a parent or those who have lived through deployments if that is the main concern of yours at this time. 

Addressing legal matters  

If you are on active duty away from home, no one can pursue litigation against you without you having the opportunity to appear in court. If you had already signed divorce papers before you deployed and wish to seek clarification on Virginia laws that pertain to custody, property division or other important issues, you could schedule a meeting (even if by telephone or video chat) with someone who is experienced at navigating the divorce process in the military. 

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