A Columbus parent or child may feel there is an enormous difference of opinion between generations. They might be right when it comes to marriage, according to recent studies. Researchers say younger couples are staying married while their older counterparts are filing for divorce at a record pace.
Social analysts are worried about the impact of late-age divorces. Statistically, 50 percent of the people who are married in the U.S. are at least 50 years of age. Older Americans are increasingly choosing singlehood as they head toward the fixed incomes and health concerns of retirement.
Census bureau figures from 2011 showed divorce eclipsed widowhood among people in the 50+ age group. More than 15 percent of the older population was divorced compared to 13.5 percent whose spouses had died. The divorce rate doubled for spouses 50 and older over a span of about 20 years, coinciding with an aging baby boomer population.
Researchers were disturbed to learn that older divorces were not just among previously-married spouses. Couples who had been together for decades were also filing divorce petitions. Analysts think many older, dissatisfied spouses sever ties after shared obligations to minor children are finished, with expectations of at least a few decades of good health.
Social scientists give several reasons for older divorce. Divorce has lost its association with shame. Women have independent careers and incomes. Health care advances have made it possible for individuals to live longer than in the past. Some researchers believe even higher divorce rates among the 50+ group can be expected in the next 20 years.
“Gray” divorces are often complex compared to breakups among younger married couples. A shared marital history often means decades of asset accumulation, including retirement funds and a marital home. Settlements for divorcing older couples must fairly address concerns about retirement years, when the ex-spouses’ finances and health could be limiting.
Source: nytimes.com, “Divorce After 50 Grows More Common” Sam Roberts, Sep. 20, 2013