Divorce among older Americans used to be rare. A report from Bowling Green State University showed that between 1990 and 2012, divorce rates dropped among younger adults. But, in all age groups 45 and up, the rate increased significantly. People aged 55-64 were more than twice as likely to divorce in 2012 as they’d been in 1990, and those 65 and older were three times as likely to divorce.
The increase in divorce rate was much more significant for older women than for older men.
A separate report based on data from the U.S. Vital Statistics Report and the American Community Survey showed that the divorce rate among women aged 50 and older more than doubled from 1990 to 2017. The rates varied significantly from state to state, with South Carolina falling near the middle of the country and close to the national median.
If you’re considering divorce or have been served with divorce papers, it’s in your best interest to get reliable advice from a veteran Sun City divorce lawyer as soon as possible. You can schedule a consultation right now by calling 843-379-4888.
Why are More Older Couples Divorcing?
There are many reasons older Americans are choosing to divorce more frequently than they did in the past. Of course, the decision to end a marriage is a very personal one, and the exact combination of factors differs from couple to couple. Some of these factors include:
- Americans are living longer and staying healthy longer. So, the decision to divorce at 50–or even 60+--means something very different today than it did decades ago. In earlier generations, someone in their 50s or 60s might have considered it “too late” to get divorced. But now, many people live active, healthy lives well into their 70s and 80s (or beyond). That means there’s likely plenty of time to pursue the life you want if you end your marriage after 50. And, perhaps decades to be unhappy if you stay in a bad relationship.
- It’s not uncommon for couples to hold out until the kids grow up to separate, even if they’ve been unhappy for a long time. Across the past several decades, people have started having children later, which means they’re older when the kids reach adulthood. And, kids are taking longer to move out. For those born in the early 80s, the median age for leaving the family home was 19. The Great Recession changed all that, and in 2017 the median had shifted to age 23.5.
- Divorce no longer carries the social stigma it once did. People who were 55 in 1990 were teens in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when divorce was generally discouraged. Those who are 55 today were teens in the 1980s–a very different era with different views. Today’s post-50 adults grew up more independent, more accustomed to relying on their own judgment versus social norms, and aware of a much wider range of possibilities for their lives. And, our current culture says it’s okay to value your own happiness and expect more from life.
- More two-income households have changed the equation when it comes to separating the household and dividing assets. It’s less likely that one spouse is entirely financially dependent on the other, and more likely that a spouse who was a stay-at-home parent has education and/or work experience to help jump start a return to the workforce.
People aged 50 and up with college degrees are more likely to divorce than those with only some college education or those who have a high school education or less, and that’s especially true for women.
Regardless of your reasons for seeking a divorce in later life, it’s important that you know your rights, understand what to expect, and know how to protect yourself.