Divorce rates are, for the most part, down in the last 20 years. The notable exception is the demographic of couples over age 50. Not only does this involve second marriages that did not work out, but there are also a large number of couples who are calling it quits after long-term marriages that involved raising families.
According to a recent study on the matter, couples over the age of 50 divorced at a rate of 10% in 1990. This has jumped to 25% by 2009 and continues to go up, particularly among those who are 55-65. Analysts say that the rate of grey divorces will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
Why is this happening?
The reasons for divorce are unique to the couple involved. Nevertheless, there are common themes:
- Finances: This is a common reason for couples of any age, but spouses may tire of arguing about money, or perhaps they see that there is enough to live comfortably if the assets are divided.
- Empty nest: Couples can drift apart over time, particularly once the kids leave home.
- Difference over retirement: Some spouses want to work until the day they die while others want to take it easy, embrace new hobbies or travel.
- Longer life expectancy: People are living longer with a better quality of life in later years, which can inspire them to make significant life changes.
- Infidelity: Changes in sex drive, impatience with recurring behavior, or opportunities provided by digital platforms can fuel this behavior.
- Addiction: Patience may run out regarding the management of a spouse’s addiction (alcohol, spending, gambling or pornography), or the discovery of a long-hidden problem
It poses many unique challenges
Long-term marriages mean couples’ lives are entwined on many levels. Financially speaking, this includes a long list of marital assets, retirement accounts, social security, and insurance. However, couples will often have difficulty explaining the divorce to grown children or even grandchildren. Moreover, making these decisions later in life usually means there is a finite period to rebuild nest eggs that were not supposed to be split.
Knowledgeable family law attorneys can help couples determine a fair and equitable agreement. Ideally, this is done outside of court to keep costs down and reduce the stress upon the family, but that is not possible unless both sides negotiate in good faith.