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Baby boomers a rising proportion of divorce filings

Photo of Karen Lavin


For many Illinoisans, divorce is tough. It is an emotional time filled with tough decisions that will dramatically shape the person's future. That is true whether the person getting divorced is just starting out or farther along in their life.

But while divorce is tough for young and old alike, it used to be primarily the province of the young. That is no longer true. According to a study, in 1990 only one in ten divorces involved someone 50 or older (often known as "gray divorces"). Twenty years later, that ratio has jumped to one in four.

Why the change over the last twenty years? Experts offer two suggestions. First, less young people get married (the marriage rate was about 90 percent in 1950 as opposed to a little over 30 percent in 2010), bringing down the total number of divorces, while the number of gray divorces has remained relatively consistent. Second, gray divorces have become more acceptable. In the past, society expected couples to stay together, even when the marriage was not working. Now, society is more accepting of couples that split when the marriage goes south.

These gray divorces tend to bring their own issues. Unlike younger couples, which often have kids to consider, older couples may be empty nesters, in which case the primary issue is property division. That can include figuring out who gets the house, the cars, the retirement accounts and a host of other things accrued over the years.

When tackling those issues, Illinois may benefit from consulting an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can help you navigate the process and make decisions that help in both the short- and long-term.

Source: GoodTherapy.org, "Baby Boomer Breakup: 'Gray Divorce' and Adult Children," Mary Murphy, June 26, 2013

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