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Military divorce rates declining slightly but remain very high

Americans who serve in the U.S. Military make substantial sacrifices for their country. In addition to risking death, many who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home with permanent and life-changing injuries – both physical and psychological.

When discussing the costs and consequences of military service, however, one subject is sometimes overlooked: divorce. Military divorce rates tend to be higher than those in the civilian population. This is likely due to the marital and family stresses that accompany military service: Repeat deployments, long absences, frequent family relocation, physical injuries and psychological trauma. Of all military branches, the divorce rate is highest among Air Force personnel.

In 2013, enlisted airmen had a divorce rate of about 4.3 percent, while Air Force officers had a 1.5 percent rate. Since the beginning of the two latest wars, the divorce rate in the Air Force has seen a nearly constant climb. It finally peaked in 2011 and has since declined slightly.

In response to the high divorce rate, the Pentagon and various officials in each military branch have worked to implement programs to help struggling military couples. The services offered include marital counseling, therapy and support groups.

Some military spouses are taking it upon themselves to build support networks online. They often include resources on how the spouses of military personnel can cope with frequent deployments and other issues. There are gender-specific resources for both men and women.

Sadly, these services are not always enough to heal military marriages strained beyond the breaking point. When couples find that they cannot reconcile, divorce usually becomes the logical next step.

If you find yourself in a military marriage headed for divorce, you should seek the help of an attorney who understands the complexities that often accompany military divorce and child custody issues. If you’d like to learn more, please visit the military divorce page on our website.

Source: Air Force Times, "Divorce and the Air Force: Who stays married and who doesn't," Oriana Pawlyk, April 28, 2014

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