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Desire for independence drives gray divorce rates upwards

On behalf of Shelly McKeon

Fewer social taboos and greater gender equality leads to more post-50 divorces

Only a few decades ago, divorce was considered a highly taboo topic and something that could lead to people being shunned by both their communities and families. As a result, many unhappily married couples stayed together in order to avoid being judged by their peers. Nowadays, however, much of the stigma has gone from divorce, and this is nowhere more evident than in the rise of “gray divorces.” According to the Washington Post, people over 50 are bucking a number of trends by divorcing later in life and more frequently than younger couples.

Gray divorces rising

Generally, divorce has either stabilized or declined for most age groups in recent years, except for one notable exception: people over 50. Nearly a quarter of all divorces in the U.S. now involve at least one partner who is 50 or older and that same age group is twice as likely to divorce nowadays compared to twenty years ago.

According to Bloomberg, researchers say there are a number of reasons behind the rising gray divorce rates and that each divorce is ultimately unique. They did note, however, that most divorces are being initiated by women and that could be a sign that older women today are more financially independent and less burdened by the social stigma of divorce compared to twenty years ago.

Challenges exist

Older couples looking for freedom and independence, however, should keep in mind that a gray divorce is not always an easy matter. Researchers also note that older divorced people have only about 20 percent of the wealth that the average older married couple has. That disparity is at least partly due to people going into divorce in later life without adequate preparation or counsel.

Couples who get divorced after a long marriage, for example, are likely to have more assets and property than a younger couple would have. As a result, dividing those assets can become complicated. Since older divorcing spouses are likely approaching retirement, it is imperative that the assets be divided fairly so that retirement plans are not compromised.

Hiring legal counsel

Because of the complex nature of gray divorces, older couples who feel they are finally ready to walk away from a marriage that no longer works should contact a family law attorney immediately. The financial stakes in a gray divorce are typically much higher than they are for younger couples and spouses need to make sure they get their divorce right the first time. An experienced attorney can assist with all important aspects of a divorce, including handling complicate divisions of assets and marital property.

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