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Longer deployments increase risk of military divorce

The overall military divorce rate in the United States has slightly decreased from the three percent increase reported in 2011, according to the Pentagon. However, the divorce rate among military members who serve longer deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan is higher than other military members, and researchers recently reported why.

A study by the RAND Corporation found that longer deployments in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan increase the risk of divorce for military members in the U.S. The researchers studied couples with one or both spouses in the military that were married between 1999 and 2008.

The researchers reported some interesting results, including that the risk of divorce increased the longer one spouse was deployed in a combat zone. They also reported that female military members had a higher risk of divorce compared to male military service members. When female military service members serve deployments in combat zones, they have a 50 percent risk of getting divorced in the first five years of being married, according to the study.

Why would longer deployments increase the risk of divorce? The researchers said that many couples are not prepared for one spouse to serve a long deployment, and being deployed in a combat zone leads to more spouses feeling less satisfied with their marriage.

The study also reported that couples who got married before Sept. 11, 2001 had a higher rate of divorce compared to couples who got married after the attacks. Couples who got married after the attacks may have a lower risk of divorce due to being more prepared for serving longer deployments compared to couples who were married before.

Even though military members who serve longer deployments have an increased risk of getting divorced, military divorce is a choice that many couples don’t ever think they will have to make. Regardless of reasons for the divorce, going through a military divorce can be complex and challenging, and it may be best to consult a divorce attorney to get the best advice on what steps to take.

Source: USA Today, “Study: Long, frequent deployments hurt military marriages,” Gregg Zoroya, Sept. 3, 2013

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