The national divorce rate has been steadily declining between 2011 and 2021. However, there is one generation that has seen an increase in divorce during this same time: baby boomers. The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, is divorcing at one the fastest rates of any other generation. 

One in four people who divorce in the United States is over the age of 65. The reality of this phenomenon, known as “gray divorce,” is apparent to those who examine divorce statistics. What is less clear is why baby boomers are choosing to divorce at these increased rates and at a time when they are entering their later years.

Reasons Why Gray Divorce Is on the Rise

The precise reason why baby boomers are divorcing at higher rates than other generations is not entirely clear. However, there are some possible reasons to explain this trend:

Longer Life Expectancies

First, gray divorce could be caused because people are living longer than ever. Along with this increased life expectancy is a desire to be happy in one’s golden years and not spend them in an unfulfilling relationship. 

Changing Social Norms and Expectations

Divorce was less common during the 1960s and 1970s when many baby boomers were coming of age. Even in cases of abuse or infidelity, spouses may have been unwilling to divorce because of the social stigma of divorce. 

But with the advent of no-fault divorce laws, much of the stigma surrounding divorce has evaporated. Therefore, baby boomers may feel less guilt or angst about divorcing than previous generations.

Greater and More Equal Wealth

Although the gender pay gap is real, women in the baby boomer generation may have greater independent wealth than previous generations. This can make divorce seem less risky, which might, in turn, make individuals in the baby boomer generation more willing to divorce.

Challenges With Gray Divorce

Whatever the reasons fueling the increase in divorce among baby boomers, the practice presents certain unique challenges. Their children are generally grown and independent, so child custody issues are rarely at play in gray divorce. However, there are other legal issues present in many cases that must be addressed:

Property Division

Separating the marital assets of an older couple in a fair and equitable manner is more complicated. This is especially true considering that the marital estates of divorcing baby boomers may include assets inherited from their respective parents. Dividing retirement assets can also be a challenge.

Spousal Support

If one spouse did not pursue their career to support the career ambitions of the other spouse, then they may be entitled to alimony. However, calculating an appropriate spousal support amount can present problems, considering the earning potential of each spouse may be less at older ages than it was when they were younger.

Estate Considerations

The lives of divorcing older couples are more intertwined than those of younger couples who separate. As a result, older couples will want to ensure they update their beneficiary designations as part of their divorce. Failing to do so can have significant financial consequences for those listed as beneficiaries.

The Gray Divorce Trend Continues

At present, there does not appear to be any indication that the gray divorce trend will slow or reverse in the near future. Those who choose to divorce later in life should consider the unique challenges involved. A skilled divorce attorney can help older adults navigate these issues successfully.

Contact The Divorce Law Firm of Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC in Fairfax, VA.

For more information, please contact an experienced Divorce lawyer at Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC to schedule an initial consultation today. Our law office is located in Fairfax, VA.

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