As a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer for nearly 20 years, I have handled many cases involving military personnel. However, over the past few years, I have noticed a significant increase in such cases. So the New Jersey divorce attorney jumped on Google and my research displayed that my hypothesis was indeed sad but true; military divorce is on the rise.
Two recent studies conducted revealed that the military divorce rate is at its highest level since 1999. The studies showed that 30,000 military marriages ended, 97% of them ending after deployment. Furthermore, the Department of Defense contributed to the studies, stating that the military divorce rate has steadily been rising. A major factor that has raised the risk of military divorce correlates with long deployments overseas.
Studies found that both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had an impact on military members’ marriages. This is primarily because these service members have been active servicemen for a very long time. With this said, the studies established the correlation between long deployments and the risk of military divorce. The studies concluded that the longer a service member is deployed, the greater the risk that he or she will experience marriage problems resulting in a divorce.
Furthermore, the studies utilized statistics and information during the period of March 1999 until June 2008. It involved 462,444 enlisted service members that were married while serving in the military during this time frame. Not only did the researchers for the studies find that the divorce risk was on the rise during a lengthy war, but also found a unique statistic regarding September 11th. These researchers discovered that couples that married before the devastating terror attack were 28% more likely to divorce within three years of marriage if one or both spouses experienced a deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq that lasted at least one year. Moreover, the studies observed that couples that married after the attacks on September 11th incurred a lower divorce rate that those married before the attacks. The explanation the researchers provide for this finding is that couples that married after the attacks were more prepared to handle the stress that would come from the war.
Another interesting finding that the studies revealed was that women were more likely to divorce than male service members after their deployment. Additionally, military families with children were less likely to divorce following deployment, keeping in mind the best interests of the child, in an attempt to prevent creating an even more stressful situation. Lastly, the studies broke down the percentage of divorces in each branch of the military. It found that the Army divorce rate, 3.7% and the Navy divorce rate 3.6%, were the highest since 2004. Additionally, the Air Force divorce rate of 5% was the highest it had ever been in over two decades. Last but not least, the Marine Corps divorce rate was revealed to be 3.8%, a stagnant rate over the course of the past four years.