Contrary to trends for younger couples, gray divorce for spouses over 50 years-old is on the rise. The Pew Research Center recently reported that the divorce rate for adults over 50 years-old practically doubled over the last 25 years.

Based upon federal government data, the Pew Center concluded that 10 couples divorced for every thousand married couples in this age group which was a rise from five in 1990. The divorce rate tripled for those over 65-years-old during that period. For that group, six people divorced for one thousand married persons in 2015.

Although this divorce rate showed dramatic increases since 1990, it has remained steady since 2008. Since 1990, the divorce rate for those 40 through 49 years-old rose slightly but not to the extent of those who are at least 50.

In 2015, 21 adults in the 40 to 49 age group divorced per one thousand married persons in that group which is a slight increase from 18 reported in 1990. However, the divorce rate for adults in the 25 to 39 age group declined from 30 per 1,000 married persons in 1990 to 24 in 2015. This is ascribed, in some measure, to younger generations delaying marriage until they are older.

The median age for men who married for the first time was 29.5 in 2016 which was an increase from 26.1 in 1990. For women, the median age was 27.4 which was a rise from 23.9 in 1990.

Aging Baby Boomers within the 51 to 69 age group, have contributed to rising gray divorce. They had unprecedented divorce levels during their young adulthood which played a role in their rising divorce rate in 2016 because second marriages are usually less stable. Divorce rate for adults over 50 in second marriages is double the rate of those who were married only once.

Many spouses seeking the end of a marriage later in life have grown unsatisfied and are looking for opportunities to pursue their own interests and individuality as they grow older. However, gray divorces have unique financial challenges which are especially significant for women. Living alone for older spouses harms financial comfort for women and men’s satisfaction with their social lives.

Many divorce legal issues confront older divorce couples, particularly with property division. A lawyer can help a spouse confront these challenges.


Source: Pew Research Center, “Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population,” By Renee Stepler, March 9, 2017