Divorce is declining for everybody except older Americans

Grey divorce is booming. This article looks at the reasons why and what older divorcees need to know.

The divorce rate has been steadily declining for the past couple decades. However, there is one age group that is bucking this overall trend and actually seeing their divorce rates rise. While it may come as a surprise, that age group that is seeing divorce increase is actually older Americans. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times reports, about a quarter of all divorces nowadays involve at least one spouse who is over 50 years of age. Below is a look at why the so-called "grey divorce" phenomenon is happening and what older divorcees need to know going forward.

The reasons behind grey divorce

The divorce rate among older Americans has doubled since 1990 even while it has declined for younger age groups. Furthermore, 50 years ago only 2.8 percent of Americans who were over 50 were divorced. Today, however, that figure stands at 15 percent.

Why grey divorce is rising has been hotly debated. One reason could simply be because of longer life expectancies. With people retiring in their 60s, many of those people are not looking forward to the idea of spending their next twenty or so years in a marriage that no longer works for them.

Another reason could be because many people who are in unhappy marriages have simply been putting off the decision to get divorced until their children have moved out of the house and are settled in their own lives. Also, the fact that there is less social stigma attached to divorce nowadays makes the decision to get divorced a bit easier for older people.

Preparing for the golden years

However, grey divorce is not necessarily easy. As US News & World Report points out, the financial stakes can be particularly high among older couples going through a divorce. Property will have to be divided carefully in order to protect one's financial plans. Pensions and 401(k)s, for example, can more than likely be divided between both spouses, even if those assets are in just one spouse's name.

In addition, older divorcees need to be careful about what they do with the marital home. While it can be difficult to let go of a home that one has lived in for the past couple decades or so, holding onto it can raise problems for somebody who is suddenly on a reduced income. While every situation is unique, a better strategy may be to downsize to a more affordable living arrangement and to use the savings to better realize one's retirement dreams.

Family law help

Divorce can be a difficult and frustrating experience no matter one's age. Fortunately, a family law attorney can help anybody who is thinking about or already going through a divorce understand what options are before them. An experienced attorney can assist clients with the various issues raised by a divorce, including property division, spousal maintenance, and, if necessary, child support and custody.