Baby boomers have been setting trends and defying tradition for decades. Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that boomers are also changing the demographics of divorce. Unlike the generations that have come after and before them, many members of the baby boom generation have chosen to seek divorce later in life.
There is even a term to describe the phenomenon: Gray divorce. In 1990, individuals over the age of 50 accounted for only about 10 percent of the divorcing population. Just over two decades later, approximately 25 percent of individuals getting a divorce are aged 50 or older.
Why is gray divorce becoming so common? Individual answers may vary, but a number of reasons are commonly cited. Many say that individuals and couples are often in a transition period in their early 50s. They may be getting ready to retire and their children may have grown and moved out of the house.
With fewer distractions related to work and raising kids, many couples realize that they are no longer happy with one another. And because people are now living longer than in the past, unhappy couples may be unwilling to spend another 20 to 25 years together if they feel they would be happier being single.
Couples also tend to have greater financial stability in their later years; especially if both spouses have pursued a career and work outside the home. This may not be a cause of gray divorce, but it could certainly be a contributing factor. Couples in unhappy marriages may have an easier time contemplating divorce if they are fairly certain that neither spouse will become financially destitute as a result.
Divorce at any age comes with some risks, and gray divorce can pose its own unique challenges. If you are over the age of 50 and are considering divorce, a family law attorney can help you better understand the advantages and disadvantages of divorce later in life.
Source: NPR, “Older Americans’ Breakups Are Causing A ‘Graying’ Divorce Trend,” Ina Jaffe, Feb. 24, 2014