Gray divorce is more common than ever. Since the 1990s, reports from the Pew Research Center show that the rate of divorce has doubled for those who are at least 50 years old.
Are you shocked? Many people feel that way. They assume that getting to 50 years old, which often means decades of marriage, also means that divorce is no longer on the radar. The statistics show otherwise, as more and more retirees and other older couples decide to call things off.
Why has this happened? Why the sudden change in just the past 30 years?
People accept divorce more easily these days. It does not have the stigma it used to. Not only did many people feel divorce was negative religiously, but society frowned upon it. That attitude has shifted. People who may have felt nervous of what others would think if they got divorced in the 1990s may simply not worry anymore. They focus on what they want to do.
Another potential reason, experts note, is that people live longer than they used to. Health care is better than it has ever been. People enjoy a higher life expectancy.
This could mean that people who feel unhappy in their marriages are less likely to stick it out. They look at the next 30 years and cannot imagine staying in an unhappy relationship. They feel younger for longer, and they have a lot of things they want to do, experiences they want to chase. They do not want marriage to hold them back.
It is also worth noting that those getting gray divorces are Baby Boomers. This generation of individuals, born on the heels of World War II, has always had a high divorce rate. Some experts have said their divorce rate when they were still young was unprecedented. They split up far more often than their parents.
This led to a lot of second and third marriages. However, statistics show higher instability in these second marriages, and a higher divorce rate. That means that people who perhaps got divorced once in the 1990s are now doing it again.
The fact that gray divorce is more popular may not be because elderly people embrace divorce more often. It may simply be that this generation, which has always gotten divorced at a high rate, is now older. When their parents were the ones getting gray divorces, they did not do it as often. It’s the norm for Baby Boomers.
Gray divorce comes with some serious challenges, especially financial issues with impending retirement. It is very important for all those considering a split to know all of their legal rights.