Military couples in Washington might be less likely to divorce than in previous years. Divorce in the military has been on a slow decline in the last decade, and a 3% divorce rate in 2018 represented a 0.1% drop from the previous year. The rate is calculated over fiscal years by comparing how many divorces are reported by the end of the year to how many people are married at the start. However, it cannot be accurately compared to the national divorce rate because the two are calculated so differently. In 2016, the national divorce rate was 3.2%.
Since 2009, the divorce rate among enlisted male soldiers has fallen from 3.3% to 2.7%. Women in the military continue to have a divorce rate that is more than twice greater than that of men with a 2018 divorce rate of 6.3% in 2018. Since enlisted men is the largest category, it tends to be most representative of the overall rate.
Military life can place a significant strain on relationships, but so can transition back to civilian life. According to a Rand Corp. researcher, there are no current studies on this despite the presence of factors, such as losing military benefits, that could also be stressful.
Military couples who are going through a divorce should be aware that certain elements of the process may be different than they would be for civilian couples. For example, if the marriage has lasted a certain amount of time, an ex-spouse who is not in the military may still be eligible for some benefits. There may also be complications with working out child custody and visitation if one or both parents are likely to be deployed. An attorney may be able to assist a couple in working through the issues involved in a military divorce.