Baby boomers are at it again. The generation that brought massive postwar changes in many areas of society is forcing another trend in American life. Older couples –those together at least 25 years –are filing for divorce in record numbers across the country.
The rise in so-called gray divorce follows from dramatic changes in Americans’ views about marriage since the 1960s, longer life spans and better quality of life for those reaching their 60s and beyond in relatively good health.
Traditionally, many people have expected marriage to provide them with stability and security. Now many people also seek self-fulfillment and personal satisfaction. This new concept of the individualized marriage can lead to more flexible marriages but also to divorce when one or both partners no longer derives satisfaction from the relationship.
Divorces that occur later in life bring their own problems, however. With fewer years ahead of them — including time on the job — individuals have less time to make up for any financial losses from a divorce. Many must remain in jobs longer than if they had not divorced, or they may have to reenter the labor force when older. Those who cannot find jobs may face tougher times.
Older adults who are in good health and economically secure, however, will face fewer downside consequences and may find divorce freeing and empowering.
Aside from its potential financial impacts, the consequences of gray divorce are generally unknown. But with the number of cases growing, many older people will suffer financial losses that are harder to recover from because of their age. Those who face the possibility of divorce should consider speaking to a trusted legal professional who can explain the financial impacts of a gray divorce — and how to reach an amicable division of assets and support payments.
Source: latimes.com, “A ‘gray divorce’ boom,” Susan L. Brown, Mar. 31, 2013