Pentagon Reports: Military Divorces Drop to Lowest Level in 10 Years

Law Firm Newswire



Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) April 9, 2015 – Divorce is notably less prevalent now than it was 20 to 30 years ago.

The percentage of lasting marriages has been rising in the general population of the United States, particularly among couples who have wed since the 1990s. And on March 4, the Defense Department announced that military divorces, too, have become less common.

In 2014, the number of such breakups dropped to their lowest point since 2005. The Pentagon reported that 3.1 percent of married officers and enlisted service members had divorced by the end of 2014 – a figure that nearly matches the 2005 mark of 3 percent. And while the military divorce rate set last year is still above the recent low (which was 2.6 percent, set in 2001) the 2014 rate represents the third successive drop since the recent high, which stood at 3.7 percent in 2011.

“The rise in divorce rates since 2001 coincide with the inception of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Lisa McDevitt, a prominent attorney in Vienna, Virginia, whose law firm specializes in military divorces. “Tours of duty overseas during periods of conflict can place additional, unique stresses on a marriage involving a member of the military.”

The drop in the divorce rate among male service members was small — down 0.03 percent in 2014 and 0.05 percent since 2011 — maintaining a generally steady rate that the gender has held for years. The decreased divorce rate among female service members was steeper, falling more than a full percentage point.

Indeed, the annual divorce rate among married officer and enlisted female service members fell from 8 percent in 2011 to 6.5 percent in 2014. The drop-off in divorces among female service members has been occurring in all branches of the military, but it is particularly notable among female Marines. In 2011, 9.5 percent of married female Marines filed for divorce; in 2014, 6.2 percent of wedded Marine women divorced their spouses.

The Defense Department figures on military divorces follow studies that have shown the divorce rate in the American civilian population declining over the last 20 years. Not counting those marriages in which a spouse died, approximately 70 percent of couples who married in the 1990s have reached their fifteenth anniversary. In the 1970s and 1980s, 65 percent of nuptials led to an equally enduring marriage.

“While military divorces, like civilian divorces, are becoming less prevalent, the former process still presents different challenges and complexities than civilian breakups,” McDevitt said. “An experienced divorce attorney remains a key resource for anyone seeking a divorce, especially if that person is a service member.”

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