As the elderly population of the United States increases, governments and think tanks are studying the implications. The ubiquitous argument over the life of Social Security continues unabated. Some groups are calling for the nation’s 20-somethings to begin having children, lest the entire economic system collapses. But another increase that is not receiving the same attention is the rise of married couples over the age of 50 deciding to divorce.
Explaining why the increase in divorce for the aging is not hard from a statistical standpoint. The Baby Boomer generation is reaching retirement age. An increase in the overall population within an age group will generally predict an increase in the number of people engaged in any given activity, divorce included. The elderly do need to consider different circumstances than their younger counterparts when contemplating divorce.
Growth in “Gray Divorce" Rates Explained
The US has seen a general increase in what has come to be called gray divorce. This can be explained by the increased number of elderly people in the country. The Baby Boomer generation, those born in the post-war boom years of 1946 to 1964, is now mostly eligible for membership in the AARP, an organization that is exclusive to those over the age of 50. However, this population boom cannot fully explain the phenomenon.
While overall divorce rates and rates for non-elderly groups have largely remained static over the past 20 years, the rate of divorce for Boomers has grown by 50 percent. The LA Daily News posits that there a number of factors that contributed to this figure. These include:
- An increasingly relaxed attitude toward sex and marriage in general, starting during the sexual revolution of the 1960s;
- People increasingly being raised by divorced parents;
- Women’s liberation and the freedom of not having to stay in an unhappy marriage; and
- The children, perhaps the main reason a couple stayed together, growing up and moving away.
Though these are valid reasons for divorce, there are special concerns that the elderly must evaluate before taking such a life-altering step.
One thing that keeps people from divorcing is the expense. Divorce is an expensive process, and the elderly may not have the resources to emerge from the process as comfortably as their younger counterparts. Retirees often depend on a pension, or Social Security, to supplement savings. This may be shared marital property that must be divided between partners upon divorce. Another consideration is the lack of support once health starts deteriorating. While children are often there to help, the elderly will first turn to their spouses when they need immediate assistance.
Finally, amongst the poor and minority populations, the elderly are susceptible to a different risk. Aside from lacking the same level of financial stability, a study from UCLA shows that the poor and those from minority populations are more at risk of having to support grandchildren. This would add another strain to an already stretched financial situation.
Elderly Divorce and You
At Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, experienced divorce attorneys are ready to help you navigate the difficult task of divorce. They can advise you on how best to protect your assets, including pensions and 401(k)s. They are also skilled in collaborative divorce, so that you and your spouse can reach a mutually beneficial divorce settlement. If you are contemplating divorce, contact an experienced DuPage family lawyer today.