Military Divorce Poses Unique Problems in Orange County & Nationwide

A fascinating article which appeared on the Huffington Post earlier this month seeks to shine a light on military divorce. That is a welcome change. Military divorce is an issue that has received too little attention here in Orange County and elsewhere around the nation despite the fact that the United States is now fighting three wars.

Citing Pentagon data, the article notes that “7.9 percent of women in the armed forces got a divorce last year – versus 3 percent of their male counterparts.” It also cites a researcher with the RAND Corporation who says that based on a study of 15 years worth of similar data those numbers “are part of an ongoing trend.”

As I have written several times over the last few years, military divorces pose a number of unique issues. They frequently cast their net far wider than California and Orange County. As I noted in a post last month, some states are seeking to treat military pensions differently from other income in ways that could encourage ‘jurisdiction shopping’ by soon-to-be-ex spouses. Similarly, child custody cases arising from military divorces often cross state lines. This is a complicating factor under any circumstances, but can become much more difficult for mothers and fathers in uniform when their spouse attempts to use deployment, or the possibility of it, as a lever in custody and visitation negotiations.

The RAND researchers cited by the Huffington Post also make the interesting observation that some of the discrepancy between male and female military divorce rates may stem from the fact that while more than “90 percent (of military men) are married to civilians… the majority of married women in the military have spouses who also serve.” Military women, in other words, are more likely to be raising families facing the possibility of multiple, or even simultaneous, deployments.

Whether one’s spouse is also in uniform or not, it is particularly unfortunate when a soldier, sailor, airman or marine facing the end of a marriage finds their service to our nation used against them in divorce and child custody cases. Military divorce cases, in short, are different from others. In selecting a California or Orange County divorce lawyer it is, therefore, crucial to look for someone with extensive experience working with military families going through divorce – an attorney who is able to appreciate the special circumstances that come with life in uniform.

Huffington Post: Divorce rate for women in military double that of men