For the general population, the last two decades have seen a decline in divorce rates. There are numerous reasons for this, including the popularity of cohabitation with young couples. They do not need to get divorced if they do not get married in the first place.
However, there is one age group that has seen its divorce rate go up over the same time period: those who are 50 years old and older. This is often referred to as gray divorce. It has been on the rise and continues to increase in popularity.
Why does this happen?
Speculation abounds, but one potential reason is that the stigmas around divorce have shifted dramatically. When these couples were in their 20s and 30s, people looked at divorce very negatively. They may have wanted to split up and felt they could not. Now that things have changed and they feel freer to divorce, they are finally doing so.
This trend does raise some very interesting questions though. How is getting divorce late in life going to impact retirement plans? Do couples have to share retirement funds or pension plans? How likely are these couples to marry again? If they already have children who have grown up and moved out of the house, how will a divorce impact their estate planning?
Older couples tend to have more assets than young couples so this can get complicated. If you find yourself heading toward divorce as you grow older, make sure you are well-aware of all of the legal options that you have.