According to the Pew Research Center, U.S. adults over 50 are divorcing at double the rate they did in the 1990s, putting the so-called “gray divorce” on an upward trend. Life expectancy has increased which means people can expect to live at least 20 years longer than previous generations. As such, many baby boomers have decided they are not going to stick it out in an unhappy marriage.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, Pew found that for people in the 25 to 39 age range, the divorce rate has decreased since the 1990s. The middle group of people aged 40 to 49 had an increase in the divorce rate, but nowhere near the rate of the baby boomers.
The Rise in the Gray Divorce Rate
Increasing social and religious acceptance of divorce has contributed to the rising numbers of older people getting a divorce. Today the stigma associated with divorce is much less than in the past. The thought of ending a marriage may seem more of a possibility now than it did decades ago when the kids were little. Women who work have the financial independence to go it alone. Having raised a family and seen the children off to college, it may be too much to bear to stay in a marriage that is unfulfilling. An empty nest seems to bring any weaknesses or flaws that existed in the relationship to the forefront.
Another factor may be that the baby boomer generation had a very high divorce rate in their younger years. Statistically, remarriages tend to be less stable than first marriages, so baby boomers on their second marriage are more likely to divorce again. In the Pew study, 48 percent of the adults 50 and over who were divorcing were on their second marriage. Those who have been married for shorter periods of time are also at a greater risk of a gray divorce.
Financial Risk of Gray Divorce
Divorcing after 50 can be financially challenging. A couple’s reserves may have been drained by paying for college. If it is a second marriage, assets are being split for the second time. If the marriage was not a long one, Social Security entitlements may not amount to much. Many people do not consider all the costs of living that are shared by a couple, such as utilities and insurance. For a spouse – usually the woman – who has taken time off to raise children, lifetime wages are often lower than that of her partner. Therefore, Social Security earnings and other retirement savings will be diminished.
Most divorcees over 50 are less financially stable than their married or widowed counterparts. Newly divorced baby boomers should take a look at their financial future and a review retirement plans to make sure they are realistic. A lifestyle change may be required to keep up with retirement savings.
Experienced Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Counsel Those Considering a Divorce in Maryland
At Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC, we understand how stressful ending a marriage can be and offer you compassionate counsel to assist you with the complexities of Maryland divorce law. Call us at 443-598-0150 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our seasoned Towson divorce lawyers or contact us online.