Americans’ attitude toward divorce is changing in significant ways. That is particularly true among couples in their 50s and above, a demographic that is divorcing at a higher rate than ever as beliefs about happiness and marriage shift with the times.
From 1990 to 2017, the gray divorce rate more than tripled, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The divorce rate for every other age group either dropped significantly or stayed about the same during that time.
What’s behind this trend?
There are many possible reasons why the gray divorce rate has increased, but Forbes has some thoughts. We’re living longer, and staying relatively healthy thanks to activities and medical treatment that can keep us fit, for example. That means even at age 50 and above, people still have time to find a partner with whom they feel happier.
Plus, the longer you’re with someone, the more chances for small frustrations to turn into significant problems. Poor money management, cheating or destructive behavior can take its toll on a marriage, potentially leading to divorce.
And of course, sometimes two people simply grow apart.
Gray divorce comes with complexities
Divorce is rarely simple, but when you’re older it has the potential to be a bit more complex. You’re likely to have decades’ worth of assets to consider, and those assets may be worth quite a lot. This means it will likely require help from an attorney or other experts in order to proceed fairly. Some complex assets that can be particularly difficult to untangle include:
- Retirement accounts
- A business
- Stocks and investments
- Second homes or vacation real estate
- Property that increased in value during the marriage
- Property that was once separate but became co-mingled
None of this is to say gray divorce is bad or unhealthy. Each situation is unique and at the end of the day, your happiness and well-being is what matters.