Gray Divorce – The Increasing Numbers of Adults over 50 Getting Divorced

divorce over 50

At a time when the divorce rate has been declining among younger adults, the divorce rate among adults over the age of 50 is on the rise. According to a Pew Research Center study, the divorce rates among U.S. adults who are 50 years of age or older is nearly double what it was in the 1990s. Commonly known as the “gray divorce revolution”, the trend of older adults getting divorced is believed to be driven largely by the Baby Boomers and their desire to “get the most out of life” during their golden years.

Gray divorce is a term that was once used to describe couples who got divorced after being married for 40 years or longer. Today, the term is applied more to divorcing couples in which both spouses are at least 50 years old. There are a number of factors that are causing so many Baby Boomers to getting divorced, including:

Longer Life Expectancies

There was a time in America, just a few generations ago, when the average life expectancy was barely over 50 years old. In those days, if you were fortunate enough to live beyond age 50, there was very little point in changing life partners. Today, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 76 for males, and 81 for females. So, when you and your spouse turn 50, there is a reasonable chance you might be together another 25 or 30 years. Many couples consider this fact and decide that they don’t want to spend another two or three decades in a marriage they are unhappy with.

Empty Nesting

For married adults who are 50 years of age or older, the job of raising their kids is usually just about done. By this time, the kids are typically out of high school and are in college or otherwise starting their own lives. Some couples who were unhappy together but decided to stick it out “for the sake of the kids” see this new stage in their lives as an opportunity to part ways and pursue greater happiness on their own.

The High Rate of Second and Subsequent Marriage Divorces

One of the reasons for the higher rate of gray divorces among Baby Boomers is the fact that a lot of Boomers have already been divorced and they are now on their second, third, or subsequent marriages. Statistics show that the divorce rate is significantly higher among adults who have already been divorced.

There are a number of inherent factors that make it more difficult the second time around, such as the baggage they often bring in from previous relationships, the difficulty blending two families together, and even simply the fact that they have already divorced once. It is generally easier to leave a second time, one of the major reasons being that there is less guilt splitting up a blended family that never really blended well in the first place.

Desire to Fill their Bucket List

One of the most important reasons Baby Boomers are getting divorced is they still have a lot of items on their bucket list that haven’t been filled yet. If they are with a life partner that does not have the same interests as they do, this might make it more difficult to do the things they’ve wanted to do in the time they still have left. So, with the kids out and 20 or 30 more years to look forward to, they decide that it’s time to get out and start checking items off their list.

The Potential Consequences of a Gray Divorce

While gray divorces are rising, there are some potential downsides that couples over 50 should consider.  First of all, it is generally more difficult financially for couples who are living separately than for those who live together. This is a very important consideration for lower or even middle class-income couples. Secondly, living alone when you have grown accustomed to living with a partner for a long time can be a much bigger adjustment than many people believe. The divorce may also have an adverse impact on adult children and other family members.

Considering a Gray Divorce? Contact an Experienced South Carolina Family Law Attorney

The decision to divorce has life-changing consequences. And regardless of your age, this is not a decision that should be made lightly. If you are considering divorce, it is best to speak with a skilled family law attorney to discuss the process. At The Cate Law Firm, we have over 50 years of combined experience representing clients for divorce and other family legal matters in South Carolina. We work closely with our clients, taking the time to listen and understand their needs, and advocating strongly for their rights and interests.

Call our office today at 864-585-4226 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form or stop by our office in Spartanburg.

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