Traditionally, many couples have believed that if their marriage survived ten or fifteen years, they were not at risk of facing a divorce.  However, the reality is that late-life divorce (also called “silver divorce”) is becoming more common and many older adults are finding themselves in the middle of divorce proceedings.

            In 2014, people age 50 and over were twice as likely to divorce than in 1990 according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.  Additionally, the increase was even higher for those over 65.

Second Marriages

            One explanation for the increase in divorce for this age group is that many older people are in second marriages.  This is important because studies have found that the divorce rate is about 2.5 times higher for those who have re-married because they are often dealing with blended families or financial challenges spurring from their divorce. 

Increased Life Expectancy

            Another explanation is the increased life expectancy.  In the past, people died earlier, but now if you are 50 or 60, you could still live for 30 years.  A lot of couples do not think their marriages are horrible, but they are no longer satisfying.  The increased life expectancy requires couples to ask: “Do I really want 30 more years of this?”

Elimination of Societal Stigma

            Additionally, separation and divorce do not hold the stigma they once did.  Famous couples, such as Al and Tipper Gore, are getting divorced after long marriages, which popularizes this behavior.

Evolving Status of Women

The changing status of women in our society is arguably the biggest reason for the increase in late-life divorces.  According to the AARP, women initiate about 60% of the divorces that occur after age 40.  According to gender consultants, women feel liberated and empowered and know how to get what they want.  Consequently, they are breaking up their relationships in order to find someone else or even to be on their own.  Not only are women emotionally empowered, but many women in today’s society are able to be financially independent as well.  More than half of women age 55-64 are employed, which means they have an independent source of income, which makes them feel safe to leave an unhappy union. 

            Attorney Van Smith notes that many of the divorce clients he represents are well into their 60s.  If you are thinking about divorce or have any questions, call Smith Strong at (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298. 

H. Van Smith
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