Even as overall divorce rates in the United States have dipped ever so slightly, divorces among older individuals have doubled over the last two decades. This is according to a study by Bowling Green State University, which also showed that one in every four individuals that divorced in 2009 were over the age of 50. In 1990, this mark was only one in every 10.
The study was backed up by one family law practitioner, who said she has noticed a clear rise in divorce among spouses that have been together upward to 40 years. They have been dubbed "gray divorces" and they are a reality of today's family law landscape.
The baby boomer generation is being attributed as a leading force behind this trend. Many baby boomers forced themselves to stay together while they raised children. Once the children have grown up and left the house to establish their own lives, many baby boomers began to focus on their individual expectations for life. Marriage might not necessarily fulfill these expectations.
This phenomenon is paired with the fact that men and women are living longer and longer. With older spouses knowing that, they decide to break free from a marriage rather than live potentially decades more locked in an unhappy union.
Certain compelling trends also exist within the movement, like the fact that the woman initiates two-thirds of divorces between spouses who are between the ages of 40 and 69. This suggests that women are more confident in breaking free from a marriage and living an independent life.
Gray divorces can also be tricky, especially if one spouse is retired. It is tough to gain financial independence, especially because the prospect of employment is slim.
Like any divorce, gray divorces involve plenty of assets to divide. Since spouses in gray divorces have accumulated wealth over time, there is generally more at stake. Careful preparation for a divorce such as this is imperative.
Source: The Washington Times, "Baby boomer and 50 shades of gray divorce," Myra Fleischer, March 28, 2013