Do deployments increase likelihood of military divorce?

In recent years, several studies have reportedly found that military deployments, regardless of length or location, had very little effect on the risk of divorce in military couples. Now, a new study, which is claiming to be larger and more detailed than the earlier research, is reporting that the opposite is actually true.

Specifically, the study found that the length of a deployment correlates significantly with the likelihood of divorce. To state it more clearly: the longer one or both spouses are deployed, the more likely the couple is to split after the deployment ends. Interestingly, the divorce rate was higher when the deployed service member was the wife. Being deployed to an active combat zone also raised the likelihood of divorce, while having children lowered it.

The study also found that couples who were married after the September 11 attacks had a better chance of remaining married after a deployment than couples who were married before 2001. This, researchers believe, is because military couples that married in post-9/11 America were expecting and anticipating a lengthy deployment and were therefore better prepared for it.

The study, which was conducted by the RAND Corporation on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, looked at nearly 465,000 enlisted troops who married between March 1999 and June 2008 while at least one spouse was serving in the military.

More than 2 million military service members have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. As such, this study indicates that many military service members or spouses may be considering divorce. If you are one of them, it may be in your best interest to find an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate the family court system. 

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, "Study finds more divorce after longer deployments," Gretel C. Kovach, Sept. 3, 2013

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