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Do police officers really have a higher divorce rate?

You work in law enforcement. It's a tough job, but it's something you have always felt passionate about. Your father was a police officer, and you are following in his footsteps. You know how important it is to have a safe, civil society. You want to do your part.

However, you also know that your father and mother got divorced when you were a teenager. You have heard people say that the stress of the job is too much for many couples, so police officers have a higher divorce rate than the average population. Is this true?

Some police departments believe so

You will find that everyone doesn't agree about how true this is. It does appear that some police departments believe it. In fact, when hiring new employees, some departments reportedly tell them of the risk and ask them to put in writing that they understand it. They want to make sure that their officers know they could put their marriages in jeopardy by choosing this line of work.

Do all departments do this? Certainly not. They are not responsible for the marital success of their employees. It's just that they feel like these elevated risks are notable and want to make officers aware of the issue.

Experts find the opposite

Surprisingly, though, when researchers decided to study this to see if the theory held up, they found that "police officers actually have a divorce rate that is lower than the national average and, in fact, are closer to the bottom of the list when it comes to the correlation between occupations and divorce."

It has long been known that careers play a role in divorce. If someone has to travel a lot for work, for instance, it can contribute to the odds of divorce simply because the married couple does not get to spend much time together. What these studies found was that other careers increased the risk far more than working in law enforcement.

Of course, part of the reason here could be that prospective officers hear the warnings about a high divorce rate long before they get married or get a job. They know the risks, they prepare for them and they are ready to deal with this lifestyle. Their spouses are also ready, and they work hard to stay together in a potentially tough situation.

The specifics

Interested in the specific statistics from the study? Here are a few highlights:

  • The average divorce rate for workers in any profession is 16.96 percent.
  • The average for those in law enforcement is 14.47 percent.
  • The average for supervisors and detectives is slightly higher than 12 percent.
  • The average for patrol officers and police officers is 15.01 percent.

As you can see, divorce is still common and the exact risk really depends on the specific job someone does for the department.

Your rights

If you do find yourself facing divorce, make sure that you understand all of your legal rights.

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