Uptick in Gray Divorce

As the baby boomer generation progresses into their later years, an interesting trend has emerged: the rise of gray divorce. Older couples are increasingly parting ways after decades of marriage. This phenomenon has unique implications and raises a multitude of questions about its causes.

What Is Gray Divorce?

'Gray divorce' refers to the dissolution of marriage among older couples, typically over the age of 50, who have often been married for several years, if not decades. According to Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, an analysis of divorce data from 190 to 2021 revealed an interesting trend.

During this period, divorce rates increased for those aged 45 and over while simultaneously dropping for those younger than 45. Notably, the most significant surge in divorce rates occurred among individuals aged 65 and older, with the rate tripling from 1990 to 2021.

What's Behind the Increase in Gray Divorce?

Boomers Married Earlier

The Baby Boomer generation tended to enter into marriage at an earlier age compared to subsequent generations. It is worth noting that marrying at a young age is often considered a risk factor for higher divorce rates, as individuals may not have fully developed their personal identities and life goals before committing to a lifelong partnership.

Less Stigma Around Divorce

Another key driver of the uptick in gray divorce is the gradual shift in society's perception of marriage and separation. As cultural norms evolve, divorce is becoming increasingly accepted and less stigmatized.

This changing landscape empowers older couples to break free from unhappy marriages, as they no longer feel bound by external pressures or societal expectations. Instead, they can prioritize their own happiness and well-being, even at a later stage in life.

Empty Nest Syndrome

When children leave home, couples often find themselves reevaluating their relationship in an empty house. For instance, with their children now grown, older parents may contemplate pursuing personal happiness, even if it means considering divorce.

Forbes reports on psychologists explaining this stage as sometimes being the tipping point that leads to a gray divorce.

Increased Economic Independence for Women

Another factor contributing to gray divorce is increased economic opportunities for women. Since 1948, there has been a rise of women in the workforce.

As more women enter various professions and gain financial independence, they may find themselves less reliant on marriages that may not provide them with the emotional and intellectual fulfillment they desire.

Higher Rate of Remarriages

The rising trend of gray divorce can be attributed to another factor: the prevalence of remarriage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 87% of baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964 had entered into marriage at least once by the age of 46. Among those who had tied the knot, a significant 45% had experienced the dissolution of their marriage through divorce.

According to Forbes, individuals who embark on multiple marriages face a substantially higher risk of divorce. In fact, statistics reveal that 67% of second marriages ultimately come to an end, while an even greater 73% of third marriages are dissolved.

Increased Life Expectancy

The increasing life expectancy is another factor contributing to the rise of gray divorce. With people living longer, the thought of spending another 20 or 30 years in an unfulfilling marriage can feel overwhelming for some.

Scientific, medical, and technological advancements have allowed Americans to live healthier and, as a result, longer lives. In fact, the average life expectancy in the U.S. for 2024 is projected to be 79.25 years, a significant increase of nearly 10 years compared to the 1960s when some baby boomers came into the world.

Growth and Divergence Over Time

As individuals evolve and age, it is not uncommon for them to drift apart. Couples may find themselves at different stages in life, realizing that their partner no longer aligns with their journey.

For example, in some scenarios one spouse has retired while the other continues to work. This significant milestone brings forth new opportunities. However, the working partner may not be able to fully engage in this chapter of their lives, resulting in an imbalance. This imbalance can potentially contribute to a gray divorce.

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys

There are a multitude of contributing factors that can lead to gray divorce. The complexities and challenges that arise during this stage of life require careful consideration and seasoned guidance. If you or someone you know is contemplating a gray divorce, contact our divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Korol & Velen.

Our divorce attorneys are experienced in assisting clients through the unique circumstances of gray divorce. We can provide personalized legal counsel tailored to your individual needs and help you find suitable solutions to your situation. Trust us to guide you through this time with compassion, knowledge, and dedication.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help. Dial (818) 962-4669 or send us a message online.

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