A new study by the National Center for Marriage and Family Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio showed that the divorce rate for couples over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010.
Lead researcher Susan Brown told the Chicago Tribune, “This surprised us, because the rate for younger people has leveled off. In 1990, only 1 in 10 divorces were people 50 and older. Now it’s 1 in 4.”
Additionally, Brown said the divorce rate for seniors is higher than for those who remarry.
There are a number of reasons couples over 50 get divorced, as with younger couples. In the 21st century, women, including those in the baby boomer generation have careers and enjoy more financial freedom so they no longer rely on their husbands as a primary source of support. Also, more people are choosing to ignore the “no-divorce rules” dictated by their church, Brown told the Tribune.
Children are often the cement that keeps a marriage together, but once the children leave, they no longer have that tie, and women often decide that they no longer have to stay in an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage for the sake of their children.
Brown also said demographics played a role in the divorce rate for seniors. Older African-American couples had the highest rate with Hispanics following close behind, then whites and Asians, the Tribune reported.
As with couples of all ages, older ones with less education had higher rates than those with higher education. Retirees divorce at a lower rate, while those who are unemployed divorce with more frequency.
Divorce among the greying set comes with different issues. While thy no longer have to worry about the issue of child support, their financial situation is a little trickier. Younger couples, who are most likely still working, can bounce back more quickly, but with older couples a divorce can cause financial hardships that are not easy to recover from, especially on a retirement salary.
For many seniors the bulk of their wealth is tied up in their homes, so dividing the marital estate can complicated since home prices have plummeted in recent years.
One of those issues in health insurance, especially if they divorce before they are eligible for Medicare. Women of all ages often lose their insurance coverage if those benefits came from their husband’s work. Health insurance is more costly for seniors so it is the best interest to have a divorce attorney that help get a settlement to cover their health insurance and living expenses.