What are the factors behind Granny and Poppy splitting up?
In a somewhat surprising development, divorce rates are increasing for folks over 65. While there has been a very large increase in the 50+ crowd driven by the boomers, this increase among their parents comes as a surprise to many. A quick look into the details reveals some of the major reasons for the trend. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by sociology professor Susan L. Brown:
The rise in "gray divorce" is a product of dramatic changes in the meaning of marriage in America over the last half-century. Today, we live in an era of individualized marriage, in which those who wed have high expectations for marital success. Americans expect marriage to provide them not simply with stability and security but also with self-fulfillment and personal satisfaction. Roles are flexible; the traditional breadwinner-homemaker model is no longer the status quo. Good spouses engage in open communication and are best friends. This is a high bar for many to achieve, let alone maintain over decades while juggling work and child-rearing.
If a marriage is not achieving these goals, then divorce is an acceptable solution, according to most Americans. As Ann Landers famously advised those considering divorce, simply answer the question, "Are you better off with or without your spouse?"
For many boomers, the question is a familiar one because they have already gotten divorced, picked up the pieces and moved on. Boomers are more likely than previous generations to have experienced divorce and remarriage. And those remarriages, it turns out, are at greater risk of ending in divorce. In part, that's because these marriages tend to be more fragile due to the relationship challenges associated with forming a stepfamily. Remarriages are also less stable because they involve individuals who have demonstrated their willingness to get divorced in the event of an unsatisfactory marriage. A study I conducted with I-Fen Lin found that the divorce rate among married couples ages 50 and older was 2 1/2 times higher for those in remarriages than in first marriages.
The more complex marital biographies of many boomers thus have enduring consequences, potentially placing them at heightened risk of a later-life divorce. Another factor in the growing rate of late-life divorces includes an increased tendency of couples to reassess their unions at life turning points, such as an empty nest or retirement. Lengthening life expectancies can play a role too. Men and women who are 65 can expect to live 20 more years, a long time to spend with someone you may not like so much anymore.
The consequences of these later-in-life divorces can be emotionally and financially devastating. Men, in particular, have a very hard time dealing with single life, and almost universally have more health problems than their married counterparts.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to feel the financial effects. It is substantially more expensive for two to live separately than together, and the generally lower income for those over 65 leaves little room for two persons to maintain anything like their previous standard of living.
If you are considering a divorce or if your spouse has already started the process, you need a legal team that will be caring and considerate about your circumstances. That will be exactly what you can expect when you call and speak with Eric or Dolores Aretsky. Call now at