More couples are divorcing after age 50, according to a recent, high-profile article in the New York Times. For many Americans, the increased rate of divorce among older spouses comes as shock. In the mid-twentieth century, only 2.8 percent of American over the age of 50 were divorced, the article reported. However, by year 2000, 11.8 percent of older Americans identified themselves as divorced. Indeed, a recent study conducted by Susan Brown, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University, suggests that “the divorce rate among older adults has more than doubled since 1980, and 1 in 4 persons who divorces today is over the age of 50.” Jay Lebow, a psychologist at Northwestern University, echoed Brown’s conclusion when he said, “if late-life divorce were a disease, it would be an epidemic.” The “gray divorce” trend, as it’s often called, seems to reflect the national divorce trend—in the last census, more than 15 percent of Americans were divorced. But is something else affecting seniors’ decisions to divorce?
These facts beg the question: why are more baby boomers seeking divorces? And does the trend among older adults reflect upon social changes in American culture generally? Family law attorneys have experience when it comes to divorce planning, and they know how to handle the financial and psychological intricacies involved in these cases.
Reasons for Increased Number of Post-50 Divorces
After Brown’s study came out, an article in the Chicago Tribune discussed its implications and the possible reasons for “gray divorces.” Why are more older couples splitting up? First, there are simply more seniors now than there were in previous decades. Indeed, Brown refers to “that huge segment of baby boomers”—a large part of the American population is made up of persons over the age of 50.
In addition, women have steadily entered the workforce over the past several decades. As a result, more women over the age of 50 have careers, and they can afford to take care of themselves financially. In other words, women increasingly have the ability to live comfortably without a husband’s income, and “they don’t have to stay in empty-shell marriages for the money,” according to Brown.
And finally, socio-religious shifts seem to be at work. Are churches and religious affiliations less significant in today’s cultural makeup? More than ever before, couples who were married in churches are willing to put aside the “no divorce” rules to which many religious organizations abide. In short, older couples are more willing to put their happiness before the nonsecular structures that might have governed their relationships at earlier points in their lives.
Advocates for Older Divorcing Spouses
If you’re over the age of 50 and you’re considering a divorce in Illinois, there are some important points to keep in mind. Primarily, if you seek a divorce, you’re likely to be living on a smaller budget than what you were accustomed to in your marriage. It’s important to have an experienced Illinois family law attorney on your side throughout your divorce to advocate for your needs. If you’re considering a divorce in Illinois, the experienced family law team at Sullivan, Taylor & Gumina P.C. can answer your questions today.