Army Divorce Regulations: Getting a Divorce in the Military

Army Divorce Regulations: Getting a Divorce in the Military

There’s no shortage of curiosity about statistics related to divorce. Members of the military and their spouses often experience unique circumstances compared to civilians, which can put added pressure on military couples and increase the likelihood of divorce. That being said, the military divorce rate isn’t the highest among occupations in the U.S., and many of the factors that contribute to military divorce are similar to other occupations.

What is the divorce rate in the military and how does it compare?

First, let’s look at the divorce rate for the United States as a whole. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the divorce rate in 2022 was 2.4 per 1,000 persons, based on the total population. If you refine the data to include only women ages 15 and older, (which the American Community Survey did), the divorce rate in 2021 was 6.9 per 1,000 women 15 and older.

Now, here’s where questions about military marriage statistics and divorce statistics get murky, especially in terms of comparison to the general public. Different organizations and government entities measure marriage and divorce rates in different ways.

One of the oft quoted sources for military divorce rate statistics is an article based on a report by the Pentagon, which was posted on the website Published in 2020, the article revealed that the military divorce rate had recently fluctuated between 3% and 3.1%. According to the author, the Pentagon comes up with this number by measuring how many service members divorced during the fiscal year compared to the number of service members who were married at the start of the fiscal year.

As for specific branches of the military, the article noted that the divorce rate in the Marine Corps and Air Force were tied for highest at 3.3%, with the lowest rate going to Navy at 2.8%. The author didn’t specifically mention the divorce rate in Army but since it isn’t the highest or lowest, we can safely assume the Army divorce rate was somewhere between 2.8% and 3.3% when this data was published.

Among the other interesting tidbits in this article included the fact that the divorce rate for women in the Marine Corps was nearly triple that of their male counterparts (7% compared to 2.5%). Also, the divorce rate for enlisted service members (3.5%) was higher than the divorce rate for officers (1.7%).

What is the percentage of military marriages that end in divorce?

When it comes to military marriage statistics, and I am certainly not a statistician, I’m guessing most people inquiring about how many military marriages end in divorce are more interested in percentages. And by percentages, I mean over the course of a marriage not during one year like the Pentagon statistics.

For example, we often hear that anywhere from 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. It all depends on who you ask. A gentleman by the name of Nathan Yau crunched a pile of data from the 2015 American Community Survey to calculate the percentage of people who divorced at least once based on occupation. (Yau’s findings were published on the website.)

Based on his analysis, Yau found the median divorce rate for all occupations was about 36%. Regarding what percent of military marriages end in divorce, based on the military as a whole “Industry,” Yau found that the divorce rate in the military was third lowest at 28.3%, following the industries of architecture/engineering at 27.5% and computers/mathematics at 27.6%.

As for actual military “jobs,” the military job category of “military enlisted tactical operations and air/weapons specialists and crew members” had the 15th lowest divorce rate at 23%. FYI, the jobs with the three highest divorce rates were gaming managers (52.9%), bartenders (52.7%) and flight attendants (50.5%).

Statistics aside, what contributes to military divorces?

Married couples who live their lives in the military do experience some stressors traditional civilian couples do not. For one, many members of the military must spend lengthy periods of time on deployment, which means they are separated from their spouses for long periods, off and on.

For some, absence makes the heart grow fonder. For others, absence leads some parties to stray or fall out of love (just like regular folks). It can also be difficult for service members to reacclimate to home life after they have been away. Their spouse may have taken over as the lead decision maker for the family and might not want to give up that role. These changing dynamics can lead to disagreements that are hard to overcome.

One of the most unfortunate factors involved in many military divorces is the mental health issues our brave service members face following combat. We all know post-traumatic stress is a common issue for many of our veterans, and as a divorce attorney Fort Worth, I have dealt with a number of cases involving divorcing a veteran with PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress can result in a variety of troubling issues that can be harmful to a marriage, including substance abuse, depression, anxiety and family violence. Along with military divorce, our firm has dealt with many cases involving military child custody issues when a parent fears their child’s other parent poses a danger to their child due to post-traumatic stress.

On a positive note, I have seen many veterans learn to tackle post-traumatic stress, turn their lives around and save their marriages by seeking professional help. If you or a loved one is a veteran who is struggling with post-traumatic stress, I highly encourage you to seek out the resources available to you through the VA and other veteran’s service organizations.

Have questions about military divorce or child custody issues?

Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help. To schedule a confidential case review with a lawyer at our Fort Worth family law firm, please call our office at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.

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