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Middle-Aged Americans Are Divorcing With Greater Frequency While Divorce Drops Among Younger Americans


Recent statistical analyses of divorce data indicate that divorce is going up among middle-aged and older Americans even as it seems to be dropping among younger Americans. According to Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, divorce rates for Americans over 55 have doubled. For those over 65, divorce rates have tripled. Nonetheless, divorce rates have actually dropped for younger adults.

Why are Baby Boomers divorcing at such a high rate? This question is plaguing the minds of researchers across the country. It has become so prevalent that the phenomenon is now known as “gray divorce.”

Sociologist Brad Wilcox says that cultural shifts in attitudes toward marriage play a large role in the uptick of divorce among the older population. Wilcox says that there has been an uptick in divorce since the 1970s. Baby Boomers were part of a generation that came of age in the 1970s and late 1960s when there was a “much more individualistic spirit that was coursing through American life.” Tom Wolfe famously called it “The Me Decade.”

Wilcox is one of a number of researchers who analyzes marriage, family and divorce trends across the United States. He believes that Baby Boomers are much more likely to get divorced than other generations in part because of an “independent streak” that characterizes their generation.

However, an “independent streak” isn’t the only factor that is causing an uptick in gray divorce. According to Wilcox, once their kids have moved out, Baby Boomers are more comfortable getting divorced. Wilcox says that most couples have some appreciation for the fact that it’s better to remain married while there are kids still in the home. But after the kids move out, the incentive to remain married dwindles.

Wilcox’s data shows that couples who fail to invest time, energy, and attention in their marriage in favor of raising their kids tend to struggle to keep the spark alive.

Sociologists also believe that greater life expectancy and financial disputes are two main drivers of “gray divorce.” However, one study found that gray divorce had a “devastating” financial impact, particularly on women. This study indicates that women experienced a 45% decline in their standard of living (as measured by income-to-needs ratio) whereas men’s standard of living only dropped by 21%. For men, the decline persisted over time. For women, the decline only reversed once they repartnered.

Gray divorces often ensue from marriages that have lasted a long time. As a divorce attorney, the longer a marriage lasts, the larger the marital estate, and the more complex the divorce is. Couples build assets together while they are married, and these become shared assets that must be divided in the divorce. The larger the marital estate is, the more complicated the divorce tends to be. This also means that attorney fees will be higher.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyer Today 

The Tampa family lawyers at Faulkner Law Group, PLLC represent the interests of Tampa residents pursuing a divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your next steps right away.


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