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Baby boomers and divorce: How high are the stakes?

Many people today fear getting married because divorce statistics are so bleak. The fact that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce is a scary thought. As if this isn't bad enough, there are a few other depressing statistics. For example, daughters of divorced parents have a 60 percent higher chance of their marriage ending in divorce than daughters whose parents stayed together. Sons of divorced parents have a 35 percent greater chance. One shocking divorce statistic involves baby boomers. Research has shown that the divorce rate for people 50 years of age and older has doubled since 1990. The divorce rate for couples over the age of 65 has tripled since 1990. Divorce within this age group has become so common that it has been dubbed “gray divorce.”

 

Why the increase in divorce rates among baby boomers? 

Research has suggested a few reasons why divorce within these age groups has spiked. When couples are younger and are working and raising children, they have other things to think about besides how happy they are in their marriage. Couples often work together to raise the children, get the bills paid, and put food on the table. When they get older and retire, the kids have moved out, and they are no longer involved in the hustle and bustle of their careers. With all of this free time, they have a chance to evaluate the quality of their marriage. In some cases, it is lacking.

When couples retire, and they have nothing but free time, they find that they have different interests, and they may not enjoy each other as much as they once did.

One final reason gray divorce is increasing could be the marriage may not be either of the spouse's first marriage. Since previously-divorced couples are twice as likely to get divorced, it has caused the gray divorce statistics to spike.

How high are the stakes in gray divorce? 

Getting divorced when you are 50 years of age or older is different than getting divorced in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. Even though your children are likely grown and out of the house, your divorce will still affect them greatly. No children, regardless of their age, wants to see their parents get divorced.

Another issue to take into consideration is finances. When a young couple gets divorced, and one spouse is ordered to pay alimony, it is often temporary. Alimony is ordered to help the spouse who made less money get back on their feet. Alimony for older couples who have been married for decades is often permanent. 

You also need to take your pension and retirement fund into consideration. Regardless of who is at fault in the divorce, you will likely be ordered to split your retirement fund with your spouse. What seemed like enough money to live on throughout your retirement may not seem like enough once it is divided in half. 

Another consideration is the family home. Most people who have lived in the same house for decades don't want to give it up when getting divorced. If you are going to hold onto the house, you are going to need to offer your spouse something in return, such as higher alimony payments, a more significant split in the pension and retirement fund, or a cash payout. This can cause serious financial strain.

The stakes are high when it comes to a gray divorce, and it should not be taken likely. If you are thinking about divorce later in life, it's best to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the challenges involved. 

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