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Divorce and the military: Some interesting statistics

On Behalf of | May 22, 2023 | Divorce

For Americans serving in the military or living as civilians, divorce is a fact of life. Just how common divorce is seems to depend on which branch of the armed forces you are in, among other factors.

Divorce by the service branch

Overall, the divorce rate among servicemembers stayed steady at between 3 percent and 3.1 percent between 2014 and 2020. But behind that stable percentage is a great deal of variation. For example, female Marines had a 7 percent divorce rate in 2020, compared with just 2.5 percent of their male counterparts. The Marine Corps’ overall divorce rate was 3.3 percent, tied for the highest rate among the services with the Air Force. The Navy had the lowest rate at 2.8 percent.

Enlisted soldiers vs. officers

Rank also appears to be a factor. Officers divorced just 1.7 percent of the time, while enlisted troops and Marines had a divorce rate of 3.5 percent. This data does not include the Coast Guard. It isn’t clear from an article about the figures if the Pentagon, which compiled the data, included Space Force divorce information.

The CDC, which measures the divorce rate for the overall U.S. population, pegged it at 2.9 per 1,000 population in 2018. But the CDC does not include California, Washington D.C. or four other states in its findings for some reason. So it is hard to judge if divorce is more common in the military than in civilian life.

Different than civilian divorce

Some things, like infidelity, money problems and incompatibility, impact civilian and military marriages alike. But the stresses of a military career, such as deployments far from home, are unique to soldiers and their spouses. Thus, a servicemember or military spouse going through divorce needs a family law attorney who is familiar with military divorce.