The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled, The Divorce Rate Is at a 40-Year Low, Unless You’re 55 or Older. In the article, the author writes:
“Today, younger married couples are less likely to split up than they once were . . . . But, at the same time, the rate of divorce for older generations has increased in a phenomenon known as ‘gray’ divorce. . . . For 55- to 64-year-olds, [the divorce rate] climbed from 5 divorces per 1,000 marriages to 15 divorces per 1,000 marriages, and for those 65 and older, it rose from 1.8 to 5 [from 1990 to 2017].”
Why is the Gray Divorce Rate Increasing While Divorce Rates Among Younger Couples are Declining?
The article points to a number of factors that could potentially explain the increase in gray divorces in recent years. One possible explanation is that people are getting married later in life. The article quotes one researcher stating that people are, “waiting longer to get married to divorce-proof their marriage.” For other individuals, the decision to marry at an older age may be based upon a desire to build a career or achieve other life goals before settling down and starting a family. Whatever the cause may be, with more people getting married later in life, it makes sense that the decision to file for divorce is coming later in life as well.
Another possible explanation is that older individuals are more likely to be in second marriages, and “[s]econd marriages are at greater risk of divorce.”While the overall divorce rate is somewhere in the range of 40 to 50 percent, approximately 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
A third possible explanation is that spouses are living longer, healthier lives; and, when their marriages become unfulfilling, they are more likely to find it worthwhile to get a new lease on life. It is also easier than ever to find new partners, and today’s seniors are both well-versed in the use of tablets and smartphones and well aware of the dating apps and other tools that are available.
What Resources are Available to Seniors Who Don’t Want to Get Divorced?
While the gray divorce rate is on the rise, this does not mean that all seniors are on the verge of bringing their marriages to an end. Terminating a decades-long relationship is a major life event, and the decision to get divorced is one that could impact the rest of your life. With this in mind, many seniors are looking for resources to help them rekindle their relationships and find ways to breathe new life into their marriages.
If you are seeking to prevent a gray divorce, you may find the following resources useful (note: these links are provided for informational purposes only; no third-party resources are endorsed or sponsored by our firm):
- Can This Marriage Be Saved? – American Psychological Association (APA)
- Happy Couples: How to Keep Your Relationship Healthy – APA
- What is Marriage and Family Therapy? – American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- 5 Principles of Effective Couples Therapy – Psychology Today
- 7 Reasons to Seek Marriage Counseling – PsychCentral
Speak with North County, CA Divorce and Family Lawyer Richard M. Renkin
Richard M. Renkin is a North County, CA divorce lawyer and Certified Family Law Specialist who has been representing clients in divorces and other family-related legal matters for more than 30 years. If you are a senior and you have questions about the divorce process in California, we encourage you to call 619-299-7100 or contact us online to request a confidential consultation.