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Why is divorce among baby boomers booming?

Baby boomers have been a trailblazing generation in many areas, including divorce. Between 1990 and 2010, the divorce rate doubled among the 50 and older demographic, which means that unlike generations past, the baby boomers are not hesitant to leave unhappy marriages, even if it’s later in life.

Sociologists have been studying the trend in effort to understand exactly what is causing the historical change. While there is no simple answer to the phenomenon, researchers say that it likely has a lot to do with these three things: higher expectations, longer life expectancies and women’s independence.

Researchers say that people today have higher expectations for their marriages and partners than they did in the past. When these expectations are not met, Americans today are more likely to ask for divorce, no matter what stage of life they may be in.

Along those same lines, people are now living longer, healthier lives, which researchers say could be a reason couples are filing for divorce well into their 60s. Healthy and active retirees may decide that they don’t want their unhappy marriages to darken their golden years.

Finally, more women than ever are now financially independent, researchers say, allowing them the freedom to leave a marriage with their own income or retirement savings. In the past, many women were financially dependent on their husbands, forcing them to stay.

Of course, just because divorce is getting more common later in life doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are many issues that have to be addressed properly in a so-called “gray divorce” to avoid a disastrous outcome for one or both parties.

Talk to an experienced family law attorney in your area for advice on going through a divorce later in life, including information on splitting retirement accounts and the likelihood of alimony.

Source: The Washington Post, “Till Death Do Us Part? No way. Gray Divorce on the Rise,” Brigid Schulte, Oct. 8, 2014

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