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Why are military divorce rates dropping?

Fewer military personnel have been deployed overseas in recent years than at the height of U.S. involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It might seem that having service members at home with their spouses would lead to greater marital strife and divorce. However, the divorce rate among members of the military has actually been dropping steadily since 2011.

Last year, that rate was 3 percent overall among both male and female enlisted troops and officers. That's down from 3.7 percent in 2011. It's heading back down to the 2.6 percent divorce rate in 2001, before those two Middle East wars.

Male service members had a slightly greater decline in divorce rates than female personnel. There were differences among the branches of the military as well. Interesting the divorce rate among female Marines rose slightly.

While having a spouse at home, particularly if he or she has returned from a deployment, can cause stress in a marriage, deployments seem to be even more stressful on marriages. One researcher at the RAND Corporation who has studied military divorce admits that they can't say with certainty what has caused the declining divorce rate. However, he notes, "We do know that there has been less deployment."

Civilian divorce rates have also been dropping in recent years. Therefore, these declines in military divorce could be in part reflective of this overall trend. However, military and civilian rates are tracked differently, and several states don't track or report military divorces. This includes California, which has a number of large military bases.

Changes in policies, such as those addressing sexual assault in the military, could be having a positive impact on military marriages. So could improved services that focus on providing help and support to military couples and families.

Divorce in the military has complexities that civilian divorce doesn't have. That's why it's essential if you are considering taking this step to seek guidance from a Florida family law attorney with experience handling military divorce.

Source: Task and Purpose, "How Military Divorce Rates Have Changed Over The Last Decade," accessed Dec. 09, 2016

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