Most people assume that by the time a couple has reached their golden years, they’re pretty settled in their ways and the anniversaries will just keep ticking on by — but that’s not always the case.
While divorce rates in this nation have been steadily dropping overall, the divorce rates for the older crowd are actually rising astronomically. “Gray” divorces have doubled since the 1990s for folks 55 years of age and above — and tripled for those couples who are 65 and older.
Why the uptick in divorce among long-term couples?
Every couple is different, but sociologists and psychologists alike point to several basic factors that are driving the trend:
- People are living longer. Once the kids are grown and a couple finds themselves alone without the “glue” that holds their marriage together, they may simply find that they have drifted apart. Some may not even like each other anymore. With many years left ahead, one or both parties may decide to take a chance on a different life.
- Personal happiness has become important. Once, social mores led couples to stick it out for the greater social good. Today, there’s a growing emphasis on letting people live their best lives — even if that means ending their marriages.
- Divorce is easier and normalized. In the past, divorce was an arduous process that required “fault,” and there was a stigma associated with it. Today, divorce is commonplace and easier to obtain thanks to “no-fault” options for most couples.
- Older couples are more financially secure. It’s harder to get a divorce when you’re struggling financially. Once couples hit their retirement years and they have a sense of financial security, they’re less inclined to stay where they’re unhappy.
In addition, it’s no longer common for women to be financially dependent on their spouses, so that often makes it easier for a woman who is unhappy in her relationship to move on.
Are you approaching a gray divorce?
No matter what your situation, it’s wise to get some tailored legal guidance about your options. You don’t want to make a rash move that could leave you at a financial disadvantage in the future.