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What has caused the recent increase in gray divorce rates?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Divorce |

There’s been an interesting phenomenon developing lately concerning divorce rates. For most age groups, divorce is becoming less likely, and the divorce rate is going down. But for those who are in their 50s or older, the divorce rate is increasing dramatically. Some have even said that it is “skyrocketing.”

Why is this? Why is it that older couples are deciding to get divorced at an increasing rate, at the same time that younger couples are apparently not taking this step? There are a few things to consider.

Changes in marriage patterns

Young people are waiting longer to get married than they used to. Many people simply live together for a few years before marriage and officially tie the knot sometime in their 30s. Previous generations tended to get married in their 20s and they didn’t cohabitate as often before marriage. This meant that, when newer committed relationships ended for previous generations, they often ended in divorce. For current generations, they do not. But it’s not because those relationships aren’t ending. Cohabitating couples that go their separate ways just don’t require a divorce.

Other potential reasons

There have been changes to older generations, as well. Here are a few potential reasons why the divorce rate is increasing:

  1. The increase in life expectancy means people are living longer.
  2. The stigma around divorce has changed over time.
  3. Older couples are becoming empty-nesters as their children leave the house.
  4. Health issues crop up, which can complicate a relationship.

Of course, there are also many older couples who are being influenced by multiple factors at the same time, such as empty-nesters who no longer feel societal pressure to stay married.

Legal rights and options

These are just a few of the reasons that experts have considered. What is very clear is that divorce has changed in the United States, and it looks different today than it used to. For older couples who are splitting up, there may be more of an emphasis on property division and retirement funds during a divorce process in order to better ensure that both parties can remain financially stable post-divorce. Seeking legal guidance can help spouses to protect their interests as they transition to a new phase of life.


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