Wartime exigencies hasten divorces, tooThe stories of...

DESERT STORM -- Notes from the home front

February 08, 1991

Wartime exigencies hasten divorces, too

The stories of weddings hastened by the Persian Gulf war are by now familiar, if still bittersweet. Men and women, called up to duty, move up wedding plans so they can marry before leaving.

There is a less romantic flip side to this, however: Divorces must be expedited, too.

Alice G. Pinderhughes, a master in the city's divorce courts, says several young men have come before her in recent weeks, asking that she waive the waiting period and finalize a pending divorce.

Even in these uncontested cases, Pinderhughes says, both spouses must show up at a hearing before the divorce can be finalized. If the divorce is not final by the time someone leaves the country, the estranged spouse would still receive benefits in the event of the other's death in battle.

"They've been separated, there's been no rush," Pinderhughes says of such couples. "But they don't know, to be honest, what's going to happen to them over there." Finalizing a divorce makes good legal sense, she said, akin to making out a new will.

"I had two in one day last week," Pinderhughes says. "It seemed a little sad."

TREND ALERT

Kent Schiner, the Pikesville man who is president of B'nai B'rith International, noticed on a recent trip to Israel that the necessities of war have been enlivened by the vagaries of fashion.

Schiner says Israeli youths are decorating the plain brown boxes that hold their gas masks, painting them bright colors and adding whimsical designs.

During the day, the boxes and parcels used to carry gas masks are the only reminders of the war and the Scud attacks Iraq has leveled at Israel, Schiner reports.

"Other than the evenings, when people are confined to their homes, you would never know there was a war," he says.

Schiner says he plans to return to Israel next month, again on B'nai B'rith business.

'ROOTS OF THE CRISIS'

The University of Maryland at College Park will host a forum Tuesday on "Roots of the Crisis: The Gulf War in Perspective."

The forum, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the zoology-psychology building, is to provide analysis and background on the gulf conflict. It is not expected to cover the conflict in College Park, where the university this week backed down from its ban on flags and banners hanging outside dormitory windows.

Laura Lippman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

If you know of an interesting story of how the war is affecting people on the home front, please call 332-6478.

PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN

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