The rise of gray divorce, and what it means for older couples


You may have heard of a divorce phenomenon called "gray divorce" before. The phrase may be a playful one, but it refers to a serious movement: many people over the age of 50 are filing for divorce, even during a time in society where divorce filings are remaining relatively stable, if not declining. In fact, the number of older people who are getting divorces nowadays is more than double the rate at which they were getting divorces in 1990.

Even more starkly, a half-century ago only 2.8 percent of Americans over the age of 50 were divorced. Today, that number has skyrocketed to more than 15 percent.

So what is driving this major change in the divorce landscape? Well, like many questions, this is a tough one to answer. There are many layers to it on a macro level, and on a micro level each person is going to be different, feel different, and have different intentions.

But in general, the rise in gray divorce can be traced to healthier lives, longer lives, and a desire to be happy throughout those longer, healthier lives. As people live well into their 70s and 80s nowadays, it means that people who are in their late 50s and early 60s are reconsidering 20 more years of commitment to their spouse if they are already in an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage.

Older couples often have many different assets and items that they need to deal with when they get divorced. After all, they have a lifetime of assets they have collected, so it stands to reason that they would have a lot to deal with in a divorce -- and a lot that they would want to protect. Consult with an attorney if you are older and getting a divorce.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Gray divorce: Why your grandparents are finally calling it quits," Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, Sept. 28, 2016

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