Military Divorces Climbing

Military service can put a strain on a marriage. Spending long periods away from a spouse, worrying about if the spouse will return from a deployment and trying to handle all the demands of home while a spouse is away can all wear on people. Defense Department statistics show that military divorce rates have continued on a steady increase since 2001, with 2011's divorce rates the highest they have been since 1999.

Military Divorce Statistics

Almost 30,000 military members ended their marriages in 2011. The overall divorce rate in the military is 3.7 percent, slightly higher than the 3.5 percent national divorce rate, as reported by the U.S. Center for Disease Control in 2009. The national civilian divorce rate is declining, however, unlike the military divorce rate.

The Army and Navy both saw their highest divorce rates since 2004 with 3.7 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. The Air Force divorce rate reached 3.9 percent in 2011, the highest it has been in more than 20 years. The divorce rate among Marines held steady at 3.8 percent from 2010.

Women seemed to be the group most prone to divorce across all branches of the military. Nearly one in 10 enlisted women divorced in 2011.

Slow and Steady Increase

Researchers note that the increases in the divorce rate from year to year are incremental and not particularly startling. However, they see a disturbing pattern emerging when they examine the progression over a longer span of time. There is a noticeable climb in military divorce rates since 2001, the beginning of military operations in Afghanistan.

Military personnel suggest that the repeated deployments and increasingly longer tours of duty are having a detrimental effect on military marriages. Couples are spending more time apart, and when the service member returns home they often no longer know how to be a couple anymore.

Consult An Attorney

Going through a divorce is often a stressful and complicated matter. When one or both of the spouses is a service member, things can be even more complex, given special laws that protect military members in civil actions, as well as the need to know how to divide military benefits in a property settlement. If you are considering divorce and have ties to the military, consult a lawyer who has experience with military divorce who can help make the process go more smoothly.