Is the military divorce rate on the decline?

When we think of the bravery and sacrifices made by the men and women in our nation’s armed forces, we sometimes tend to focus more on the battlefield than on the home front. The unfortunate truth, though, is that the stress of prolonged separation and the strain of repeat deployments can put a real strain on military marriages.

To illustrate, consider that the U.S. military’s operations began in Afghanistan back in 2001. Each year since then, there has been an increase in the military divorce rate. Although the year-to-year increase has been quite small, the military divorce rate has still risen slowly but steadily from 2.6 percent to 3.7 percent over the course of ten years.

Fortunately, it appears that some change may finally be on the horizon. Recently released figures from the Department of Defense indicate that the military divorce rate actually declined in 2012, falling to 3.5 percent. However, experts are warning that while the drop is encouraging, it’s still far too early to call it a trend.

“The sense is that things are possibly drifting down,” said Benjamin Karney, a researcher with the RAND Corp. “Interpreting it is a challenge. As much as it would be terrific to say ‘Oh great, we’ve turned a corner,’ it’s really hard to do that in one year.”

Interestingly, the DOD statistics also reveal that every branch of the military has seen a decline in divorce rates among male and female personnel of all ranks.

The U.S. military/Department of Defense is crediting its family support and marriage intervention programs for the slight yet encouraging decline. For example, the Army’s Strong Bonds program has spent millions of dollars to run marriage support events designed to help families adapt to the changes inherent in military life.

The aforementioned experts, however, are looking more toward the reduction in the length/frequency of deployments and gradual improvement of the U.S. economy as reasons for the drop.

“The divorce rates are perhaps trickling down because the pace of deployment is getting slower,” said Karney. “Another possibility is that the economy is kind of bouncing back and military families are absolutely affected by the broader national economy, so maybe their lives are gradually getting easier.”

If you are among those struggling with the stress of maintaining a military marriage and have decided that divorce is the best option for you, consider speaking with an experienced divorce attorney. Together, you can discuss your rights, your options and how you can navigate the often difficult divorce process as smoothly as possible.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

Source: News, “Military divorce rate down slightly in 2012,” Amy Bushatz, Jan. 23, 2013