A new study has shown that divorces among couples aged 50 and over dramatically increased between 1990 and 2010. In 1990, only 10 percent of all divorces were among people over 50. In 2010 that number had risen to 25 percent of all divorces. In contrast, the under-50 divorce rate grew only marginally.
One reason for the increase is that baby boomers are aging and there are simply more older couples than there were 20 years ago. In addition, marriages are more likely than ever to contain two breadwinners, so concerns about the ability to support oneself in the event of a split are not as widespread as they used to be. Also, as people become less religious on average, they are less likely to stay together for purely religious reasons.
Regardless of stresses such as stepchildren and more complicated healthcare decisions, people who were divorced in the past and who have since remarried are even more likely to get a divorce. One Illinois family law attorney believes that having gone through the experience before makes them less fearful of going through with leaving their partner. The attorney also noted that children leaving home may bring back the spark to some marriages, but other marriages may have continued in a large part due to the presence of children.
Most importantly, older people going through divorce may have different legal needs than their younger counterparts. The ability to learn new skills and provide for oneself may be lesser amongst and older population, which can have implications for alimony and property division. Also, while older couples are more likely to own their own homes, this often means that they have a mortgage. The mortgage crisis has hit some of these couples especially hard, and the resulting financial issues can be an obstacle in a divorce.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Post-50 divorce rate doubled in 20 years” Leslie Mann, Feb. 27 2013.