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A look at the impact of deployments on military divorces

Military members can be at greater risk for divorce. According to researchers, reporting on the largest study on broken families in the military, longer and more frequent combat deployments in countries in the Middle East undermined marital satisfaction which led to a greater number of divorces. The research looked at 460,000 service members from 1999 and 2008 and discovered that the likelihood of divorce increased with each month the deployed spouse was away at war.

The research found that deployments negatively impacted expectations for the marriages and that the length, conditions and risks of deployments served as a shock within some of the marriages. Marriages that began prior to September 11, 2001, failed at a rate of one in seven as the expectations entering the marriage were far different from the reality following the major terrorist event that changed U.S. military engagements unexpectedly for some military couples. For marriages that began after September 11, 2001, the divorce risk was one in eight.

According to Pentagon data, the rate of military divorce increased over time from 2.6 percent in 2001 to 3.7 percent in 2011. The rate dipped slightly in 2012. Divorce risk increased with the length of the deployment from 12 months to 18 months, with the amount of danger involved in the deployment and if the service member going off to war was a woman. Women who were deployed had a 50 percent chance of their marriage failing within the first 5 years. Without considering combat deployments, female service members have a higher rate of divorce than men.

Both military marriages and military divorces can present challenges that civilian marriages and divorces do not necessarily face. At the same time, there are many similarities which is why it is important for military couples considering divorce to understand the military divorce process and how to navigate through it.

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