Late life divorce (‘silver’ or ‘gray’ divorce) is becoming more common and more acceptable in society. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University, in 2014 people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990. The increase was even higher for those over 65, while at the same time divorce rates have plateaued or dropped among other age groups. Here are some reasons late life divorce is becoming more common:
1) More second marriages
a) The divorce rate is about two and a half times larger for those who have remarried. These remarriages result in blended families as well as greater financial challenges.
2) People are living longer
a) In the past, people died younger. Now, there is overall longer life expectancy. With that factor, people are realizing that they don’t want to stay in a relationship that is not satisfying or loving.
3) The status of women is changing
a) According to AARP, women initiate about 60 percent of divorces after age 40.
b) Women are the ones who take the decisive step because men don’t want to rock the boat and will generally put up with a less than ideal situation.
c) The shift in gender roles has resulted in women feeling liberated and empowered and choosing to break up relationships to find someone else or be on their own instead of settling.
4) Women have higher expectations for their emotional life
a) Instead of working on a loveless marriage or one that has ‘run out of juice,’ women are choosing to divorce.
b) Women are increasingly following through on their expectations by ending ‘dead end’ relationships.
5) No longer need to stay together “for the kids”
a) At this point, later in life, the children usually are independent. It’s no longer vital that a couple make things work and barely get by “for the kids.”
b) Although adult children may still want their families to remain intact, they’re not in control. Parents increasingly feel that their children no longer get to dictate the terms of their relationship.
6) Importance of Role Models
a) Many women feel they should be good role models for their children. They want their children to learn only to stay in relationships that are love-filled, not because of fear of the unknown.
b) By staying in relationships only if they are happy, women are choosing to model the behavior they’d like their children to emulate.
7) Personal Economics Issues
a) Despite all of the reasons why women are initiating silver divorce proceedings, women on average earn less than men. Women also tend to live longer than men, which makes it a greater economic risk for women to be on their own for longer periods.
b) Additionally, ‘gray divorced’ over-62 women receive smaller Social Security benefits, on average, than other single women and men. More than a quarter of this demographic lives below the official poverty line, as well.
c) However, more than half of women aged 55-64 are employed, which means they have an independent source of income and are not solely reliant on their spouse.
If you are considering a divorce, our matrimonial department can help. Please contact HoganWillig with any questions about the above material, or if you wish to speak to an attorney, at (716) 636-7600. HoganWillig is located at 2410 North Forest Road in Amherst, New York 14068, with additional offices in Buffalo, Lancaster, and Lockport.