The story of Tipper and Al Gore is a classic example of an emerging trend called Gray Divorce. Four kids and 40 years of marriage, and this attractive, outwardly happy couple simply had grown apart and wanted to live as single adults. Tipper insists that it wasn’t that Al was dull, boring or cheating on her, and who knows what was going through Al’s mind.
These days, an estimated 50% of US marriages end in divorce
Yet while divorce rates seem to have stabilized or even dropped a bit for most age groups, since 1990, the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has doubled. For those over the age of 65, it has more than doubled.
According to a report by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin, sociologists at Bowling Green State University, fully one out of every four people experiencing divorce in the United States is 50 or older, and nearly one in 10 is 65 or older. In 1990, fewer than 1 in 10 persons who got divorced was over the age of 50.
Late-life divorce can seem illogical
You’d think that by the time couples had lived together for 20+ years, struggled through their early career-building years and raised their families, they’d have learned to tolerate each other’s bad habits, appreciate their strengths and live in harmony. But the statistics are showing that this is increasingly not the case.
Myriad reasons for an uptick in midlife divorce
- Some experts believe that people are simply more evolved. We may have to credit the baby boomers for an attitudinal change—this is the group that’s become more vocal and aggressive about their needs than previous generations. Couples are getting divorced because they want and expect more than they’re getting from their current relationship. Their parents may have stayed in loveless marriages, but this generation is increasingly throwing in the towel on their own empty or dysfunctional relationships.
- Others think that online dating sites have become influencers. If you’re not aware of the growing availability of online dating sites, you’re not paying attention. These sites are popping up to meet growing needs and demographics. Online dating has become commonplace; it’s an easily accessible forum for meeting someone with mutual interests. Couples who may be unhappy but are coexisting out of habit are inspired by friends who’ve divorced and found new love online. For those for whom the thrill is gone, these sites offer the thrill of romance—something many people haven’t experienced for years. Happily, many online relationships work out; many don’t, but the possibilities are endlessly tantalizing.
- Empty nests: facing the reality of an empty marriage. The children are gone, and all of a sudden, a couple finds themselves staring at each other across the breakfast table with nothing to talk about. Kids are often the glue that keep marriages together. Once they’re gone, couples are confronted with the harsh reality that they’ve grown apart and have little in common. For those couples in a second marriage who may have struggled to adjust to life as a blended family and helped raise each other’s children, there is an even higher rate of divorce.
- People are living longer, healthier lives. Thanks to good healthcare, diet and exercise, our life expectancy has increased. For that healthy 50-year old couple staring at each other across the breakfast table, their future together can begin to loom large. It’s not unrealistic to think a 50-year-old could live for another 40 years—or more. The prospect of another 40 years with a current spouse may be the deciding factor for an increasing number of middle-aged couples.
California Document Preparers has assisted more than 2,000 clients with Uncontested Divorce. If you and your spouse are in agreement about custody and a parenting plan for your children and you can agree on division of property, you do not need an attorney. We prepare all of the legal documents, notarize and file them for you. In each of our three offices, we have dedicated Family Law specialists who are sensitive to the unique emotional needs of our divorce clients. They work with you throughout the process, and are available by phone and email for questions.
Call to make an appointment today to talk about your Divorce. The California Document Preparers teamhelps you through every step.