The One Demographic Where Divorce Rates Are Rising

Divorce Rates Are on the Rise for Seniors

In the past two decades, national divorce rates have been gradually declining. However, not everyone is benefiting from this trend. Data analysis finds that divorces are on the rise for one specific group of people.

Research Shows Senior Divorces Are On the Rise

Many people are under the impression that divorce rates are soaring, but the reality is that divorces are less frequent than you might think. Studies have shown that divorces are less common than in the not-so-distant past. As an example, one that was conducted in 2023 by Bowling Green State University found that in 1990, 19 people out of every 1,000 married individuals ended up getting divorced. By 2021, that figure had dropped to 13 per 1,000 married people.

This research also revealed some interesting trends about how your age affects your risk of divorce. While divorce rates dropped greatly for people in their 20s and 30s, they actually increased for people over the age of 45. Baby boomers are having more divorces instead of fewer, and the most drastic change is for those over the age of 65. The research found that divorce rates for seniors had more than doubled. Only 1.8 out of 1,000 married seniors divorced in 1990, but 5.5 out of 1,000 married seniors divorced in 2021.

The fact that older couples are divorcing at much higher rates indicates that something may have changed in how seniors handle their relationships. This trend is notable enough that people in the field have coined the term “gray divorce” to describe this. Only time will tell if divorce rates for seniors continue to rise.

Reasons More Seniors Are Divorcing Now

Relationship experts believe there are several reasons behind this unusual trend. One of the most common is that seniors are starting to spend more time with their spouses. After years of focusing on work and childrearing, people hope to spend their golden years with their spouses. However, some may find that they have grown apart, and all the new time spent with their spouse forces them to confront this fact. In this case, many seniors realize they are better off divorcing and finding someone who suits their current lifestyle better.

Another potential cause is the fact that people are living much longer now. Presently, a 65-year-old can expect to live a couple more decades. Seniors in the past were often busy with health issues and stayed in unhappy marriages because they felt the marriage might not last much longer anyway. However, modern seniors are often well aware that they have a lot of life left to live, so they don’t want to be stuck with someone who doesn’t make them happy.

Some seniors interviewed about love and marriage also say that social media plays a big role. The interconnectivity of the internet makes it much easier to revisit the past and touch base with old flames. Seniors who would have otherwise stayed in their marriage may end up reaching out to past lovers and starting up a new relationship. Furthermore, the rise of dating apps allows seniors the opportunity to secretly explore the dating world and find potential partners without their current spouse knowing.

For many seniors, a divorce can make logical sense. People often choose to stay together while rearing children or focusing on career goals. Once they are older and have fewer responsibilities to deal with, they often feel like it is easier to divorce. Many seniors find that they are entering a new stage of life, and they no longer want to keep an old relationship that isn’t making them happy. Since their life is simpler, it’s much easier for them to move on.

The rising divorce rate for seniors might also be partially due to changes in social attitudes. People in the past were typically raised in cultures that frowned upon divorce. Many unhappy couples felt like they had to stay together for their entire life. Meanwhile, today’s seniors have spent many years seeing that divorce can be a healthy way of dealing with a marriage that no longer works. Since there is less stigma attached to divorce, seniors are likely to get a divorce if they need one instead of being influenced by social pressure.

Considerations When Seniors Divorce

A lot of seniors hope that divorcing at an older age will be easier. It is of course true that you are less likely to deal with details like child support and custody. However, this doesn’t always guarantee a divorce will go smoothly. When seniors divorce, it is often after decades of being married. Having your life intertwined with someone else’s for so long inevitably leads to complications. Unlike younger couples, it is not always obvious which assets belong to which person. Most of a senior’s assets are often those acquired during the marriage and thus have to be split with their spouse. This aspect can involve a lot of time with your divorce lawyer, and if your spouse chooses to be difficult, it can lead to many disagreements.

Something else to keep in mind is alimony. Since these types of divorces often involve longer marriages, there is a greater chance of court-ordered alimony. This is especially likely if one partner sacrificed their career in order to take care of the home and raise children.

Retirement funds are another financial detail that needs to be addressed in a divorce. There are a lot of misunderstandings about how retirement funds are split. Many people assume they get to keep all accounts in their own name, but in many cases, retirement accounts are a joint asset. Another common misconception is that you only get your own Social Security benefits. The reality is that many divorced seniors are eligible to get benefits based on their spouse’s earnings record, so you need to factor this into your financial plans for the future. It’s important to choose a divorce attorney who can handle retirement account division fairly because most seniors will need to rely on these savings in the near future.

Of course, don’t forget that divorce can have a major impact on your lifestyle. Many senior couples rely on each other for things like healthcare or managing their social life. These details don’t necessarily need to be discussed in a divorce, but those who are committed to a peaceful, mutually satisfactory arrangement may want to talk about them with a mediator. It can make the divorce process a lot smoother if you are committed to working out details like which family events you’ll attend and when you’ll take your ex off your health insurance plan.

For help dealing with these issues and all the other details that relate to ending a marriage, turn to the Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco. Our team has plenty of experience dealing with all the complexities of senior divorces. We can guide you through each step of the process and help you find a solution that addresses your unique needs. To schedule your free consultation with a New Jersey divorce lawyer, call us today at 201-343-0078 or fill out our contact form.

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