Military vs. Civilian Divorce:

According to the U.S. census, civilian divorce rates across the country have been falling since the year 2000 while military divorces are becoming more and more frequent.  In fact, they have risen by 25% over the last ten years.

By the end of the 2011 fiscal year, 3.7% of marriages in which there was at least one service member, ended in divorce. This means that nearly a staggering 30,000 military marriages ended last year, the highest percentage since 1999. Enlisted women have been found to be twice as likely to divorce, as their divorce rates have reached almost 10%.

Stress is expected to be the most influential cause of military divorce. At the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, the military divorce rate was at 2.6% and has raised nearly a full percentage since then. While the service member is away, changes for each party can alter their definitions of normalcy. Service members may experience months or years of violence, only to be reintroduced to their growing families. Some military members find themselves unable to relate to their children who they come to learn they barely know, or their spouse who has learned how to live without them. Similarly, the husband or wife at home can go through hectic life changes while having to cope without present support.

There are differences to consider when comparing military divorce to civil divorce, in regards to rules regarding division of military pensions, residency requirements for filing for divorce, certain legal protections for the military member and emergency court orders pertaining to child support. One of the biggest dissimilarities that service members consider is the USFSPA (Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.) The USFSPA applies only under certain conditions (for example the marriage must have lasted at least 20 years) and allows states to divide military disposable retired pay as marital property upon divorce, including language about medical, commissary and exchange privileges. The service members Civil Relief act is another distinction in the process of military divorce. Under this act, military members are protected from lawsuits including divorce proceedings so that they can devote all of their attention to the defense needs of the nation.

Even with the high volume of military families in the state of Florida, not every divorce lawyer is able to help  military families through their divorce issues. As mentioned, military divorces, and child custody cases, come with a unique set of circumstances, especially when a service member is deployed.

Divorce can be stressful and tragic under any condition, and it is unfortunate that so many military members serving our country who return home to reunite with family wind up in a divorce.