Reasons why older couples are divorcing in record numbers

This article looks at why older Canadians are divorcing and what that means for their retirement plans.

One surprising fact about divorce that has emerged in recent years is how many couples over 50 are choosing to part ways. As CNBC reports, the divorce rate for those aged 50 and up has doubled in the United States since 1990, despite the fact that for most other age demographics the divorce rate has either declined or held steady. Getting divorced later in life certainly presents challenges, not least because dividing the marital property will require careful planning so as to avoid wiping out one's retirement plans. However, despite the challenges, there are a number of sound reasons why older Americans are beginning to see divorce as a worthwhile option. Here are just four of them.

Americans are living longer

Retirees are living a lot longer than they used to. As life expectancy has crept upwards, that has meant that more Americans have more of their Golden Years to look forward to. As MarketWatch reports, for many Americans their retirement will last a full 30 years longer than was the average just a couple generations ago. As a result, many people who are in less-than-stellar marriages find themselves simply not wanting to continue that relationship through what may be a very long retirement.

The stigma of divorce has diminished

Another way that older Americans today differ from their forebears is in their attitudes towards divorce. Just a few decades ago, the idea of an older couple getting divorced would have raised a few eyebrows and could make those divorcees feel ostracized from their community. Nowadays, divorce has become normal, which means that no matter their age, anybody going through a divorce doesn't have to worry about much (if any) social stigma.

Both spouses are working

One of the perhaps surprising facts about the grey divorce boom is that in most cases it is actually the wife, rather than the husband, who is initiating the divorce. The reason for that is likely because more women are in the workplace, which in turn has given them the financial independence to pursue a life beyond their marriage if they so choose. That was an option that was simply not available to many women in the not-so-distant past.

Many grey divorces are second divorces

Finally, many of the so-called grey divorces are not couples who have been together for decades, but rather those who are on their second, third, or even fourth marriages. In fact, according to MarketWatch, the grey divorce rate is twice as high among those on their second or higher marriage than those on their first marriage.

Family law help

No matter the age of those going through it, divorce is a difficult experience. Especially for those divorcing later in life, there may be serious concerns about how a final divorce agreement will impact their retirement plans. An experienced divorce attorney can help those who are preparing for or going through a divorce in a number of ways, including by showing them what assets may be subject to division and how to negotiate a divorce agreement that best sets them up for the years ahead.