According to a report from the Pentagon, the rate of divorce among members of the armed forces held steady in 2007, at 3.3 percent. Considering that marriages can be under considerable stress due to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this can be somewhat surprising.

Some veterans have questioned if the figures are accurate, but defense officials have cited recent efforts to support couples enduring long separations and hardships due to the wars.

According to the Associated Press, the divorce rate represents over 25,000 failed marriages among approximately 755,000 active duty troops throughout all branches of the military who are married from a period between October 1, 2006 and October 1, 2007.

According to the Defense Department’s data, the Army, which is the branch with the largest number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, had a 3.2 percent rate of divorce, which is unchanged from the previous year. That percentage represents 8,748 divorcees among approximately 275,000 married troops.

Army couples had to deal with extended separations due to tours of duty lasting 15 months instead of 12 months. Longer deployments and multiple tours have taken the blame for stresses on military couples.

The biggest exception to the data is the divorce rate among female troops. Over the past several years, women in the military have had twice as many marriages fail as men. The data did not provide firm numbers, but it appears that in 2007, eight percent of women in the service have divorced and 2.6 percent of men have divorced.

There is no system that can compare this rate to the rate among civilians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the general population’s divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000 people in 2005, which was the most recent statistics available and the lowest rate since 1970.

According to Todd Bowers of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, there is a crushing effect on military marriages from the war, producing a rising number of breakups. However, he says, these are not being tracked because they are among people who are no longer in the service.

If you are facing divorce this, you need to take care to protect your credit.

Most people don’t know that court decrees assigning payment responsibilities for joint loans are not honored by lenders. This incorrect assumption of being off the hook for financial obligations can result in payments being missed and your credit score being tarnished for years. However, you can limit your exposure to this type of risk this if your credit is safeguarded before filing for divorce.

If you and your spouse have joint accounts, you should do your best to change them to individual accounts so that splitting up your financial responsibilities will be easier. This may or may not require your spouse’s cooperation. It will depend on how the debt is titled and on the requirements of the creditor. However, these steps can save years of credit woes in the future.

You should begin this process with your credit card accounts. Payments on credit card debt are the most often missed, as opposed to home and vehicle loans. Those loans are the second thing you should work on.

However, refinancing your mortgage and car loans will be more difficult, as banks or mortgage companies will likely require additional transaction costs to refinance the loan. Selling the car or house and splitting the money could be an easier method, which would guarantee a vengeful ex-spouse wouldn’t damage your credit.

Opting out of receiving pre-screened offers for credit or insurance is also advisable, as a former spouse could be tempted to apply for a loan in your name in order to ruin your credit.

Of course, this information is not specific legal advice for your own situation. Rather, it is general information. Before taking any action, you should discuss these issues with your lawyer.

Jim Jeffries | Mobile & Baldwin County Attorney

Jim currently is a member of the Alabama Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines and Enforcement as well as a statewide committee that has been tasked with reviewing and making recommendations for possible revisions to Alabama's version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Jim was also recently appointed by the President of the Alabama State Bar Association to a serve on a committee whose purpose is to review and comment on Alabama legislation regarding joint custody for a proposal to the Alabama Legislature for possible changes in this legislation.

Jim has attained a Peer Review Ranking of AV from Martindale-Hubbell® - The highest an attorney can be ranked by his peers.

He continues to lecture to attorneys across the state regarding family law issues.

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Jeffries Family Law, LLC

Divorce Attorney | Child Support & Child Custody Attorney | Prenuptial Law Attorney

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