Older and Wiser: More Americans 50 and Older are Ending Bad Marriages and Starting New Lives

December 12th, 2017 by McNeely | Stephenson

With age and experience should come wisdom. Sometimes that wisdom results in the decision to end a non-functional Indiana marriage and start a new and better life. The Pew Research Center reports that although divorce is less common for younger adults, “gray divorce” is increasing in the U.S. The divorce rate for those fifty and older has roughly doubled, and for those 65 and older that rate has about tripled, since the 1990’s.

The divorce rate is not uniform across age groups.

  • In 2015, 21 adults aged 40 to 49 divorced per 1,000 married persons in that age range, up slightly from 18 in 1990.
  • The divorce rate for those 25 to 39 decreased from 30 persons per 1,000 married persons in 1990 to 24 in 2015. One reason for the decline is that younger generations are putting off marriage until later ages.

The increasing divorce rate for adults fifty and older is partially linked to the aging of Baby Boomers, those 51 to 69. In their younger years this group had high levels of divorce. This marital instability earlier in life contributes to the increasing divorce rate for those fifty and older today, since remarriages tend to be less stable than first marriages.

  • The divorce rate for adults fifty and older in remarriages is twice the rate of those who have been married only once.
  • Of adults fifty and older who divorced in 2015, 48% had been in at least their second marriage.

The chances of a divorce for those fifty and older is greater for those who have been married a shorter time.

  • For those married less than ten years, the divorce rate was 21 people per 1,000 married persons in 2015.
  • The divorce rate is 13 people per 1,000 married persons for adults fifty and older who had been married for 20 to 29 years.
  • This shows subsequent marriages are less stable than initial ones. Most adults in this age group married for less than twenty years were in their second or subsequent marriage.

The divorce rate is lower among adults fifty and older with longer marriages, but a large share of gray divorces involve couples married for thirty or more years.

  • For those who divorced in the past year, 34% had a prior marriage lasting at least thirty years and 12% had been married for forty years or more.
  • Research shows that many of those seeking later-life divorces are no longer satisfied with their marriages and want to pursue their own interests and independence in their remaining years.

If you are thinking about getting divorced or have decided to end your marriage McNeely Stephenson, based in New Albany, Indiana, helps people start new lives by protecting their interests and defending their legal rights in divorce proceedings. We proudly serve communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, IN. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or using our online form.