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"Gray Divorce" a Growing Phenomenon

The divorce rate across the United States has declined in recent years but divorce among individuals above the age of 50 has increased.

Some researchers are calling the trend of over-50 divorces a "Gray Divorce Revolution" and the subject of so-called "Gray Divorce" has gotten much attention from multiple media outlets lately.

There are multiple reasons why a quarter of divorces involve individuals who are over 50, including:

•· Cultural shifts - marriage is viewed less as a life-long institution and more as a vehicle for individual fulfillment. There is also less social and religious stigma around divorce.

•· Second marriages - divorce is much more likely for individuals who are on their second or subsequent marriages. Individuals who are over 50 are much more likely to be on a second or subsequent marriage than younger individuals.

•· Lifestyle changes - divorces often follow a transitional event such as a retirement or becoming an empty nester. These important life milestones cause individuals to reevaluate their marriages and decide if they want to remain with their spouse for the next 20 or 30 years after this transitional phase in their lives.

•· Role changes - the fact that more women are becoming financially independent from their husbands also makes women less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage than previous generations.

There are unique property division challenges in divorces over 50. Many over-50 couples do not have prenuptial agreements and have significant intermingling of finances, stocks and retirement accounts. An experienced divorce attorney can help over-50 couples considering divorce with the asset valuation and property division process.

Source: NPR, "'Gray Divorce': Over 50, And Splitting Up," John Donvan, March 8, 2012

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