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Monday, December 23, 2013

Divorce of Female Military Members, Higher Than Males

For members of the military, the physical wounds of battle are sometimes only the beginning of their struggles. 

Upon returning home from deployment, many find their marriages have significantly deteriorated, usually the result of some combination of the long distance and the emotional turbulence everyone has endured during that time. 

The Pentagon recently reported that this is more true for active-duty female members of the military than for the males, though it was noted that the rate has dipped slightly over the past two years. The female military member divorce rate reached a peak of 8 percent in 2011, fell to 7.9 percent last year and again to 7.2 percent in 2013. 

Compare that to the divorce rate of male military members, which has remained at about 3 percent since 2005. Overall, the average divorce rate across all genders and services fell this year to 3.4 percent, down just by 0.1 percentage point.

There is a lot of praise offered to active duty military families for all they endure to keep it together. While that praise is often well-deserved, there is also no shame in reaching the conclusion that it's no longer working. Filing for an uncontested divorce may serve to make the process even less painful for everyone involved. 

Active-duty women in the U.S. Marine Corp. have for a long time held the record for the highest divorce rate within the military. This year, it reached 7.4 percent, from a recent high of 10.4 percent in 2010.

While the military outlined a number of relationship-building initiatives it has implemented over the last several years, the slight decline in divorce rates may have more to do with the drawdown than anything else. Fewer deployments is going to mean less stress on families and therefore fewer marriages splitting up. 

Yet the disparity between male and female service members remains. A 2011 report on the issue by USA Today surmised that the fact that female service members were more than twice as likely to split from their husbands may have to do with societal pressure. While the military continues to level the playing field in terms of the kind of positions that women hold in their careers, society is still expecting them to fulfill certain family ideals. Often, there is not an equal balance between men and women in this regard, and women in military may be less accepting of this disparity. 

Additionally, roughly 50 percent of all female military members are married to male members of the military Compare that to 10 percent of male military members married to other military members. In some ways, there are advantages to such a relationship in that the other person more likely understands the pressures and demands of the job, the downside is that balancing two military careers can pose significant challenges. 

One female Army sergeant and Afghan war veteran who had recently divorced told a reporter that during her four-year marriage to her military husband, they racked up thousands of dollars in debt just on long-distance phone calls. She said it was difficult not to feel some level of insecurity when both she and her husband saw rampant infidelity among their colleagues during deployments. Ultimately, the separation simply proved too much. By the time she retired from her career, they had become different people and grown too far apart. 

If you are a military member contemplating a New York City divorce, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Female Military Divorce Rates Continue to Decline, Dec. 18, 2013, By Amy Bushatz, Military.com

More Blog Entries:

Post-Nuptial Agreements and Stay-at-Home Moms, Dec. 6, 2013, New York City Divorce Lawyer Blog


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