Study: Military Divorce Risk Depends On Deployment Length

As we’ve blogged about in the past, recent statistics show that divorce rates among all branches of the military have risen over the past decade.

Which military couples are most likely to divorce? A new study from the RAND Corporation that takes a look at this question finds that risk for divorce appears to rise directly in relation to the length of time enlisted service members are deployed to combat zones. In other words, the longer a spouse is deployed on active duty, the more likely it is for that servicemember’s marriage to end in divorce.

In the study, researchers tracked the marital status of more than 460,000 U.S. service members between 1999 and 2008.

What did they find out?

  • Among couples married before 2001, those that experienced deployment of at least 12 months to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan were 28 percent more likely to become divorced within three years of marriage as compared to peers who experienced similar deployment before the wars began.
  • The longer the deployment — 18 months versus 12 months, for example — the greater the risk of divorce.
  • Divorce rates increase in situations where the servicemember’s deployment is more dangerous (hostile combat) vs. non-hostile deployment.
  • Female service members have a higher divorce rate than men. Researchers found that when called up for a combat tour, female service members can face a 50% chance of seeing her marriage fail during the first five years.

Researchers also noted that 97 percent of the divorces occurred after a return from deployment. The risk of divorce was lower among military families that had children.

Are you or your spouse a member of the military and contemplating divorce. We have a number of helpful resources available to help you:

Guide to Military Divorce in New Jersey

New Jersey Gives Military Parents Added Protection for Child Custody & Visitation Issues

New Jersey Out-of-State, International, Military Divorce