Research dating from 2014 found that over the past two decades the divorce rate for those ages 50 and older has gone up two-fold. And this trend in divorce rates does not seem to be going away. A report published by the U.S. Census Department in 2021 revealed that nearly 35% of all people in the U.S. who got divorced in 2020 were age 55 or older.
Based on the age group of these divorcees, this trend is referred to as a “gray divorce.” You may wonder, what is causing so many older couples to take the major life decision to divorce after years or even decades of marriage?
Life after the kids are grown
Many gray divorcees are in a position where they have been married for years, raised a family together and are now facing perhaps 20 or even 30 years as empty nesters. If you have been staying together “for the kids” and now realize you still have a lot of life ahead of you, you may decide to divorce.
Different values and goals
As we age, our values and life goals often evolve in ways we could not expect when we got married years earlier. If your values and life goals in your older age are no longer compatible with those of your spouse, it may be time for divorce.
The stigma of divorce
Many older generations have a negative stigma of divorce. While that stigma is changing amongst younger generations, Baby Boomers may have feared they would get backlash from older friends and relatives if they decided to divorce. Now, as their parents, grandparents and other older friends and relatives have passed on, they may decide that now they can divorce without scrutiny.
Getting divorced is a personal decision
These are only some reasons gray divorcees may have chosen to end their marriages. The decision to divorce is personal, complicated and oftentimes multi-faceted. Gray divorcees should know that even at their age divorce is still an option if they find themselves in an unhappy marriage that simply cannot be saved.