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Grey Divorce: American Seniors Divorcing More Than Ever

 Posted on November 26, 2015 in Divorce

older divorce, grey divorce, Illinois family law attorneyAmerican seniors are divorcing more than ever before. Today, married people over 50 are two times as likely to divorce as they were in 1990. While the divorce rate for young and middle aged couples has remained relatively steady over the past 30 to 40 years, the number of “grey divorces” is rising quickly. What could be driving a growing number of older married couples towards divorce? A recent study sheds some light on the issue.

Experts have tracked the increasing number of grey divorces over the past few years, and discovered some interesting results. While the popular consensus is that divorce is increasing across the board for every demographic, in reality, the divorce rate in the US has only changed slightly over the past 30 years or so. Basically, most marriages today are as likely to end in divorce as they were in the late 80‘s. This is not the case, however, for couples 50 and older. Statistics show that of people getting divorced, nearly 1 in 4 of them is over 50 years old. Nearly 1 of every 10 divorcees is over 64. Those numbers are double the divorce rates of seniors in 1990, and experts predict the trend will continue to grow. Are seniors becoming unhappy later in life?

Possible Factors

When searching for a cause of this increased divorce rate for seniors, experts first looked at education levels. Several years ago, researchers discovered that education level is an indicator of divorce likelihood. Couples with a college education are around half as likely to get divorced compared to couples with only high school educations. Higher education often leads to higher incomes, and couples in more comfortable financial situations are less likely to divorce. Many unhappy couples point to money problems as a major issue between them, so it makes sense that couples with lower levels of education and less access to quality jobs experience higher divorce rates. Education level, however, is not linked at all to the growing number of older couples divorcing.

Why then, are older couples divorcing more frequently in the US? One reason could be that older people are often on their second or third marriage. Remarriages have long been known to be less stable than first marriages, and often end in divorce. People who have been divorced before are also likely to divorce again if their second or third marriage becomes unfulfilling. This certainly plays a part in the growing grey divorce rate, but researchers found that over half of divorcing older couples are in their first marriage. In fact, a large majority of them have been together for 20 years or more.

Increased Independence for Women

Another likely reason is the fact that women are becoming more financially independent, and do not need to stay married to be provided for. In the past, women were thought to stay in unhappy marriages because they felt they had no other option, but today, women can just as easily take care of themselves as men. Older couples are also healthier today compared to their past counterparts. Where a divorce at age 60 might have seemed crazy 30 years ago, today, 60-year-olds will likely live another 20 years or more. That is a long time to remain in an unfulfilling marriage.

In the end, researchers found that the increasing number of older couples getting divorced is just another sign of marriage being redefined in America. People are looking for fulfilling, romantic marriages with their best friend, and are often not willing to settle for anything less. There is also much less of a stigma surrounding divorce today. With no-fault divorce now available in every state, couples who find themselves unhappy can separate without the fighting and finger pointing. It is likely that older couples, many of them suddenly empty-nesters, find that they have nothing in common anymore, and decide to go their separate ways. Also, the growing number of older couples divorcing means that there is an ever growing number of single seniors. A 60 year old getting divorced in generations past may have never had a chance of meeting another partner, but, today, there is a plethora of older people in the dating world. Online dating has also become extremely popular with this age group.

No matter what stage of life you are in, deciding to get a divorce is a serious, life changing decision. A qualified Naperville divorce attorney is available to meet with you and review your options. Contact the Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240 to arrange your consultation with an attorney today.


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