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Military Divorce Rates Dip in 2012

In early 2013, Military.com reported that the rate of military divorces dipped slightly in 2012 from the numbers posted the previous year. In January, Pentagon statistics were released which corroborated this fact. In 2001, the rate was at 2.6, but over the decade, it crept up considerably – topping out at 3.7 in 2011. Finally, in 2012, the numbers began to reverse their momentum and begin to decrease; still, officials and researches are not ready to proclaim a downward trend just yet with the limited amount of available data.

Benjamin Karney, a researcher who works with the RAND Corp. stated that "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."

Data for military divorce rates are gathered by comparing how many military members are married at the end of a year to those who were at the beginning of the year; this also takes into consideration attrition, new recruits who join military ranks, as well as military members who say their vows during the fiscal year. This data showed that in 2012, divorce rates were down across all genders, ranks and services.

The Army and Marines still suffer from the highest rate of divorce, both for female and male military members, with a staggering 9 percent divorce rate. Worse, statistics show that enlisted females suffer from a divorce rate that is almost triple that of their male counterparts. Still, as bad as the numbers are, it is still showing a downward trend from the almost 10 percent divorce rate in 2011.

There are many factors which are believed to come into play for this lessened divorce rate; primarily, the length of separation has lessened over the last few years as deployments have slowed down. Another factor is the economy which is beginning to show life once more. Military officials, however, contribute the slowed divorce rate to efforts made by marriage support and emotional health programs.

Many, however, still question the direct root of the problem and the primary causes for military divorces. In 2011, The Huffington Post published an article titled "Does Deployment Cause Military Families to Divorce?" In this article, they looked at statistics which were gathered from 2002 to 2005 in the direct wake of 9/11. The article, which was based on analysis by researchers Benjamin Karney and John Crown, showed that even in the military, couples who marry younger are more likely to split than those who wait for their nuptials.

Other findings which were reported include the following:

  • Enlisted women are more likely to divorce (female Army officers not included);
  • In the Army, and among Navy officers, black couples are twice as likely to divorce; and
  • Active duty military members & Army officers who have child(ren) are less likely to divorce.

In a study which encompassed 30 different tests, Karney and Crown looked to determine whether deployment actually played as large of a role in divorce as presumed. The results were surprising. While active duty officers and Air Force personnel were more likely to divorce when deployed, the exact opposite was found for other service members, where the longer the deployment, the less likely a divorce would be.

In 2012, Stars and Stripes posted an article which discussed the fact that military families are surprisingly resilient. Despite the slow rise in the divorce rate post-9/11, the numbers were still shockingly close to what they were prior to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. They stated that while divorce rates were rising, a more accurate portrayal would be to compare divorce rates to similar divorce rates for comparable civilians.

The study reported that "Despite the demands of military service and the threat of long separations, service members are nevertheless more likely to be married than matched civilians."

In the study, researchers found that military members often divorce for the same reasons that civilian couple split – including young marriages, couples from "relatively disadvantaged" segments of the population, couples with lower incomes and more. Essentially, marriages which would be deemed vulnerable for comparable civilians were similarly vulnerable for military couples – no more and no less.

Regardless, divorce is a troubling situation, no matter the couple who is involved. At Cutter & Lax, Attorneys at Law, we know just how difficult it can be to go through the complex divorce process. With more than two decades of legal experience, as well as a reserve JAG officer on staff, we know what you're facing and we're prepared to go above and beyond in our efforts to help. To learn more how a California military divorce lawyer from our firm can assist in your divorce, please call today at 800-606-2056! You can also fill out our online case evaluation form to send us a message directly.

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