According to statistics released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense, the military’s divorce rate dropped again last year, and has reached its lowest level since 2005.
In 2014, the divorce rate among enlisted and officer men and women was 3.1 percent. The military divorce rate has steadily decreased since 2011, when it reached a high of 3.7 percent. In 2001, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were beginning, the rate was only 2.6 percent.
By contrast, the civilian divorce rate stands at approximately 3.6 percent, according to the most current data available.
One gender is largely responsible for the steady decline in military divorces. Since 2011, the female military divorce rate has dropped from 8.0 percent to 6.5 percent, accounting for most of the overall reduction. Female Marines saw the largest decrease in divorces, from 9.5 percent in 2011 to 6.2 percent last year. The overall divorce rate among male military members dropped by only 0.3 percent in 2014.
Speaking with Military.com, Benjamin Karney, a researcher with the RAND Corporation who studies military divorce, said that “[t]he latest data confirm and continue some general trends that we have been seeing for some time. Across all branches, divorce rates for males have been relatively flat.” He added, “Something else is going on for females, however. Across all branches, divorce rates for female service members have been declining substantially.”
The decline may be attributed to a reduction in deployment. “Past research has shown that the marriages of female service members are at a higher risk for divorce as a result of deployment than those of males,” said Karney.” A steady reduction in deployments could translate into a steady decline of the female service member divorce rate.”
The military has marriage support programs and experts focused on reducing the divorce rate even further, through research, education and prevention. Beth Allen is an associate professor who helped develop the Army’s Strong Bonds marriage support program. She spoke to Military.com.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the stress that military families have been experiencing through these operations, and how resilient they are,” she said. “But what we still need to learn more about is how couples are doing post-deployment, and how they are facing various challenges and changes in their relationship. Then we could evaluate which approaches really serve to keep couples strong over time and which approaches predict divorce.”
Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, told Military.com that “[t]he health and well-being of service members and their families is a priority. Strong relationships are important to our readiness.”
In the unfortunate event that a servicemember needs counsel on his or her separation and divorce, Livesay & Myers, P.C. can deploy experienced military divorce attorneys to provide guidance. Our lawyers are equipped with the knowledge to dock your future in the calm and secure waters of post-divorce life without being battered by the uncertain seas of litigation. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.