In recent years, an interesting phenomenon has become apparent concerning divorce rates. Age plays a huge role in the likelihood that a couple will go the distance at any given point in their relationship. For most people who are under 50, the divorce rate is going down. But for those who are over 50, the rate of “gray divorce” has been going up.
This doesn’t mean that there are more gray divorces overall, but just that the rate at which older couples file for divorce is increasing, while the rate at which younger couples file is decreasing. It’s an interesting trend because the increase has been notably dramatic in recent years.
Why is this happening?
There are a lot of different reasons why this is happening. Life expectancy is longer, for instance, but older couples also have a higher incidence of illness or disease. These life-changing events can sometimes lead to a divorce. Additionally, older couples are entering new stages in their life. Maybe a couple’s children just went off to college, so a couple is now empty-nesters. For some, that can be a revelation that the relationship wasn’t going well, but it’s only clear once the children have moved out.
Are gray divorces more complicated?
In some ways, these divorces can be easier, specifically, because child custody usually isn’t an issue. As noted above, these divorces often involve empty-nesters. It may be difficult to talk to adult children about the subject, but older spouses generally don’t have to sort out legal custody.
In other ways, though, these divorces can be much more complicated. Young couples often do not have many assets, so it’s easier for them to split things up and go their separate ways. Older couples may have significant assets like real estate, investment portfolios, pension plans and retirement plans, etc. They have to determine how to divide all of these complex and valuable assets, which takes a lot of time and energy.
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues into the future or not. But either way, it’s very important for couples to know about all the legal steps to take when they are getting divorced, as this legal process tends to be consequential at any age.