It is no secret that the divorce rate is higher in military families than in the regular population. It’s estimated that about one-fifth of all marriages involving military personnel end in divorce. Behind these alarming statistics lies a tightly woven web of interlinking stressors and circumstantial factors that systematically weaken the fabric of marriage.
Military marriages confront the stress of deployment, prolonged periods of uncertainty, and the (psychological and physical) aftermath of active duty. What is more, the military culture often clashes with traditional family values, creating internal tension in spouses.
Stress on Military Marriages
Several stressors can trigger divorce among military couples, such as:
Most military couples endure military separations for extended periods due to deployments. Military spouses often do not know how long their loved one will be gone or when they will return. These extended periods of uncertainty can be trying for a couple to overcome.
Military families may struggle financially due to the pay scale and family separation during deployments. What is more, financial issues may also arise after active duty. Depending on the time spent in service and one’s qualification, reintegrating into the job market can be challenging.
The full spectrum of stressors military families confront is vast. Some other common issues spouses often battle with, include:
- Communication issues between military spouses (especially if one is deployed overseas)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can strain marriages on multiple levels (including psycho-social, financial, intimate)
- The constant moving around makes it difficult for military spouses to find divorce lawyers near them
The Military Culture Is Anti-Marriage
Unlike the standard civilian marriage culture where partners can live together and support each other, military culture can be characterized by:
High Rates of Infidelity
It is difficult for many couples in the military to have a strong, committed relationship while being physically apart for extended periods. Partners often have to work far away from home and may not always have the possibility to contact their family regularly.
Lack of Social Support for Military Couples
Military couples also lack social support from friends or family members who may not understand what they are experiencing. This can add to feelings of isolation from friends and family, increasing the likelihood of an affair or divorce.
Frequent Relocation and Separation
Military couples relocate every two or three years on average, making marriages difficult. Moreover, a partner can be deployed where the other spouse cannot join. The frequent moves and separations make it hard for military spouses to maintain relationships with friends and family, leading to an unstable environment and lack of social support.
Problems With Child Custody and Visitation
Military divorces present a unique set of challenges regarding child custody and visitation. Military spouses often have to move away from their former military spouse, potentially making it difficult for the non-custodial military spouse to see their children.
In addition, courts may award full or the majority of child custody to the military spouse due to their stable job and greater financial resources. This can be difficult for the other spouse. Whenever a child is involved, parents must act in their best interest.
Military Laws Can Conflict With Family Laws
According to the military, serving the nation is a priority over personal issues. When the values of spouses do not align, there can be great emotional friction.
However, divorces can be difficult because spouses have to navigate military laws in addition to state divorce laws. It is essential for couples going through a divorce to consult with experienced military divorce attorneys in Huntsville who know both military law and state family law.
Some of the challenges facing military spouses during a military divorce that needs the help of an attorney include but are not limited to:
- Understanding the unique benefits (such as retirement pay) that are available through military divorce proceedings
- Establishing child custody, visitation, and support orders when one or both parents are active-duty service members stationed overseas
- Determining how different states’ military divorce laws will affect spouses, including military pension plans and retirement benefits
- Filing military divorces when a spouse is stationed overseas or on deployment missions
- Understanding the different types of military divorce that are available for couples (summary dissolution, default divorce proceedings, uncontested military divorce, and contested annulments)
The Bottom Line
The high rates of divorce in the military can be linked to stress, issues with child custody, and tension caused by military culture and laws. Nevertheless, a professional attorney can help you go through your divorce smoothly.
The divorce rate within the military, particularly within the Navy, is twice the national average, which is about 1.6%. So what percentage of military marriages end in divorce? Statistically, that number is around 3 and 3.1%, with military women being more prone to splitting than men.