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Study examines role of deployment in military divorce

There is no question that military life can prove to be challenging for many marriages. That's because many couples have to endure more than just demanding work conditions and frequent relocations, but, perhaps more significantly, regular deployments that sometimes see a spouse travel across the globe to dangerous environments for months at a time.

Interestingly, researchers at the RAND Corporation recently completed a large-scale study examining the impact that deployments have had on the marriages of over 460,000 service members from 1999 to 2008.

The researchers discovered that the overall military divorce rate rose from 2.6 in 2001 to 3.7 in 2011 (before finally dropping last year). Regarding the impact of deployment, the study -- published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Population Economics -- made the following interesting findings:

  • The longer the deployment (i.e., 12 months versus 18 months), the greater the risk of divorce 
  • The more dangerous the place of deployment, the greater the risk of divorce
  • If the service member being deployed is a woman, the greater the risk of divorce

As to why deployment has had such a dramatic impact on divorce rates, the authors believe that much of it can be attributed to the simple fact that prolonged and trying deployments caught many spouses off guard and perhaps altered their prior expectations of what a marriage should be.

In other words, the authors theorize that "the length, conditions and risks of deployment are sources of shock to the value of military marriages."

It is worth noting that the study found that those military marriages formed before the 9/11 terror attacks had a divorce rate of one in seven, while those military marriages formed after the terror attacks had a divorce rate of one in eight.

Here, the authors attribute the slight difference in divorce rates to the fact that couples married before 9/11 likely had a decidedly different outlook concerning deployment when they first walked down the aisle, while those married afterward were aware of the risk of prolonged deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you would like to learn more about military divorce or other family law issues here in Texas, consider contacting an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and explain your options.

Source: USA Today, "Study: Long, frequent deployments hurt military marriages," Gregg Zoroya, September 3, 2013

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