Marriage is a wonderful state. It can bring a sense a fulfillment, belonging, love and intimacy when both people enjoy their life together. Adding children can fully complete the picture. However, so many marriages exist with disharmony, disappointment, distress and tension. The additional stressors involved with parenting can tip a marriage into the danger zone. Marital difficulties and custody problems, as painful and emotionally wrenching as they sometimes are, can certainly be more easily handled when both partners live in the same home or nearby. But what if one person is in the military, deployed overseas for months or even years, and that person's spouse wants a divorce?

Dear John letters are not rare among military personnel. Custody battles and divorce are becoming more prevalent among military families. Spouses and intimate partners may not be happy living and functioning alone, separated by huge distances, having all the responsibility for child care, and not enjoying the romantic and intimate aspects of what they probably wanted in a marriage. A dissatisfied or estranged spouse may fight for custody of the the child or children.

An article in the Washington Post by Ann Scott Tyson, December 30, 2008, Deployment Used in Battle for Kids, brought this serious problem out into the open for discussion. She discovered that commanding officers often do not provide support or assistance for soldiers caught in this dilemma. Army regulations do allow a soldier to request an emergency leave due to problems at home, threat of divorce or child custody problems. However, the commanding officer has the ultimate power whether or not to grant approval of such a request.

More than 20 states have passed laws to limit the impact of deployment on ultimate custody decisions. For example, the state of Viriginia prevents any permanent change in custody to allowed while one spouse is deployed. There is no uniform plan nationawide that protects the rights of soldiers.

If you are personally dealing with such a painful relationship destroying situation, it is essential that you check out the precise laws in the state where you preside. Marriage and Family Therapists and Divorce Mediators are available to help couples deal with relationship and custody problems. However, when one partner is deployed thousands of miles away, living in sometimes very unpleasant conditions while risking his or her life to defend our country, the partner at home, living an ordinary life, can much more easily gain custody of their children.

Before rushing into court to fight for custody, it behooves the stay at home spouse of a deployed partner to seek personal counseling, gain some valuable insight, and discover whether there is a way to keep the marriage intact. It is also important for the courts to offer the equal rights to the military partner.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Erica Goodstone has helped thousands of men, women, couples, and groups to develop greater awareness of the issues in their relationships and their lives, to overcome and alleviate stressors and discords, and to revitalize their relationships and their own mind-body-spirit connection. Dr. Goodstone can be contacted through her web site at and you can take the Create Healing and Love Personal Quiz and get your free assessment report at