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The Graying of Divorce

A recent study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio reports that the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled in the last twenty years

In 1990 only one in ten divorces involved people over 50. By 2010 that number had leapt to one in four.

One of the researchers, sociologist Susan Brown, speculates that there may be three major reasons for the increase:

1) There are more seniors - the baby boomers are a large part of the population. Since there are more seniors, there are more divorced seniors.

2) More baby boomer women have careers - meaning they don't need to stay in a dead marriage because they have no financial alternative.

3) Churches with no-divorce rules are losing their hold over people

Another factor is the fact that divorce rates are higher in remarriages than in first marriages. The baby boomers rode a wave of higher divorce rates going back 20 or more years ago; hence more of them are in remarriages today, making them statistically likelier to get divorced again.

There are also demographic differences among the gray-haired divorcees: Blacks have the highest rate of elder divorce; Asians have the lowest. The elder divorce rate is lower among more highly educated people. Retirees have a low divorce rate.

Divorce in the over 50 set carries additional consequences beyond the usual ones. Financial needs are different as people approach retirement age. Baby boomers had fewer children than earlier generations, so there are fewer children to care for the now aging baby boomer parents. Medical insurance is a much bigger deal, because people over 50 are much likelier to need expensive medical treatment than people in their 30s.

Elder divorce can also be emotionally more difficult than divorce at a younger age. As one woman, Virginia Koerber, described it in an interview in the Chicago Tribune, "At an age when I had thought we'd travel and be retired, I was on my own."

Regardless of a person's age, divorce is always a difficult process. If you are contemplating divorce, or have any questions about any aspect of family law, contact an experienced family law attorney at the New Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

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