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New year expected to bring more military divorces for Virginia families

Military families welcoming troops home from Iraq may now face a new battle, divorce. According to the Pentagon, almost 30,000 families went through a military divorce in 2011. The Air Force had the highest divorce rate, at 3.9 percent, followed by the Marines at 3.8 percent, the Army at 3.7 percent and Navy at 3.6 percent.

The Defense Department said the increase in military divorces has been following a consistent trend that began in 2001, when U.S. military operations initially began in Afghanistan. Experts believe that protracted and repeated deployments of military members have taken its toll on military families. Couples may find that they have grown too far apart and they need the help of a Fairfax military divorce lawyer.

For returning troops, whose marriages have been strained by their absence, a new pressure emerges as they attempt to reintegrate back into their families and society. USA Today quoted Chaplain Carleton Birch from the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains, "As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down, we're going to put more families together who haven't been used to being together."

The Army is doing what they can to help repair broken bonds. Last year they spent over $100 million on various marriage support events through their marriage intervention program, Strong Bonds.

When spouses find that the bonds can't be repaired and they will be divorcing, there are numerous considerations to be evaluated. Division of military assets, such as pensions and retirement pay is often complex and requires the expertise of an attorney who has extensive experience with the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).

Even with drawdown of troops complete in Iraq, there are still many others deployed elsewhere around the globe. Stresses will continue to challenge these families as well as those coming home. Taking advantage of counseling and other support services offered by the military may help spouses stay together.

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