In past years, middle-aged married couples were viewed as a stable and non-changing fixture of society. Couples who married in their 20 and raised children in their 30s and 40s were viewed as happy and content as they enjoyed their 50s and beyond as a happy couple. In recent years, however, there's been a growing trend among couples in the United States and in California age 50 and older as more are choosing to divorce.
Researchers point to several factors that may be contributing to the rise in what's been coined "gray divorce". They've determined the best predictor of a likely impending gray divorce stems from whether one or both of the spouses have previously been married. Couples who have previously gone through a divorce and are now on their second, third or fourth marriage have a 150 percent greater chance of getting divorced again.
Being married more than once also plays into another key predictor of divorce, which is that couples in new marriages tend to divorce at a much higher rate than those who've been married for 20 or more years. Some wonder if race and social acceptability may also play a role, as blacks Americans age 50 and older are 75 percent more likely to get divorced while Hispanics are 21 percent more likely.
Provided being previously divorced is a predictor of another divorce, researchers believe the pendulum will once again swing the other way as divorce rates are lower among younger Baby Boomers and those encompassed in Generation X.
An older couple going through a divorce often faces different challenges than a younger divorcing couple. Child custody is not usually an issue and they typically have more assets such as property and retirement and investment accounts. It's wise then, for older divorcing couples to consult a divorce attorney who has experience dealing with complex divorce proceedings.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "What Are the Risk Factors?," Carl Bialik, Mar. 3, 2012