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Divorce Among People Over 50 Is On the Rise

While overall divorce rates overall have leveled, they’ve risen among Americans over 50 years of age, with approximately 25% of the divorces today occurring among couples who are 50 and older. According to a New York Times story, the chances of an adult over 50 divorcing doubled between 1990 and 2014, and the jump was even higher for those over 65.

When couples divorce in their 50s, 60s and 70s, there is less time to recover from the experience – not only emotionally, but financially. The marriage may be decades old, or it may be a second or even third marriage Regardless, the fallout can be devastating. Just as children are grown and out of the house and one is beginning to think about slowing down and enjoying life, a new challenge faces them. For a spouse caught off guard by the announcement of a divorce, the revelation can be shocking. Even the spouse who suggested the divorce may be unprepared for what is to come – in the divorce and in life after divorce.

The reasons people divorce later in life mirror the reasons younger couples break up. There are relationship problems such as infidelity or alcohol abuse. Often a spouse feels that the couple has grown apart and are no longer in love. Such feelings take on new urgency as they hit milestone birthdays in their 50s, 60s or beyond.

People are living longer and are healthier and more active into their later years than ever before – the average life expectancy in the United States is now 79 for men and 81 for women. As people live longer, their expectations for what later life looks like have changed. If clients’ marriages are not working, they may decide they don’t want to live out the next 20, 30 or more years with someone they do not love.

Changing times, too, bring a new range of possibilities. Over the past few decades, greater options for women in the work world have led many to seek independence if they are unfulfilled or are suffering abuse from a spouse. Financial independence encourages other types of independence. Women are less likely to feel tied to a husband’s finances and more likely to pursue divorce.