People often think of divorce as an issue for younger couples. Those who get married young, before their brains finish developing, may lack the ability to truly consider the long-term implications of their relationship decisions, for example.
However, the average age of marriage in much of the United States has been increasing, and divorce rates have actually begun dropping in many age groups. At the time same, older adults have begun divorcing at higher rates. Those over the age of 50 are actually at higher risk of a divorce now than they would have been a few decades ago. Many people have started to ask whether divorces of older adults have become more common, and current divorce rates indicate that they have.
So-called gray divorces are the fastest-growing type of divorce
Researchers and journalists refer to divorces involving couples over the age of 50 as gray divorces (or, sometimes, “silver splitters”). Whatever term they use for the phenomenon, there is little question that older couples now divorce more frequently than they did in decades past.
Although divorce rates in other age groups may have dropped, they have continued to rise among older adults. Those over the age of 50 have more than twice the chance of divorcing today compared with 1990, and experts believe that the divorce rate for older adults will triple by 2030 if the current trends persist.
These later-in-life divorces can have numerous implications for the spouses, including concerns about their retirement and independent living arrangements after decades of marriage. Gray divorces often involve very complicated property division proceedings, as spouses who have spent decades together may have very little separate property. Almost all of their assets may be subject to division in the divorce.
Those considering divorce later in life may need to adjust their expectations about retirement or their approach to divorce if they hope to make the most of their golden years after ending an unhappy marriage. Couples that cooperate regarding property division and support matters can potentially reduce how much time and money they invest in the divorce and also eliminate the uncertainty that comes with having a judge make decisions in litigated proceedings.
Understanding what makes gray divorces different can benefit those concerned about the state of their marriage.