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Gray divorce: what is it, and why is it on the rise?

by | Feb 28, 2020 | Divorce |

In Florida and across the United States, couples over the age of 50 have been getting divorced at an increasing rate, even though the rate of divorce has decreased overall. According to one study, the rate of these “gray divorces” was twice as high in 2010 as it was in 1990.

One reason that divorce among couples over 50 is on the rise could be simply because divorce is not nearly as stigmatized as it was in older times. Another difference between individuals today and those of prior generations is life expectancy. Whereas it may have been relatively easy to stay in a lackluster marriage when people did not expect to live as long, couples now expect to spend at least 20 years of retirement with their spouses.

An additional reason for the rising gray divorce rate could be that more women feel free to initiate it. Women in previous decades were less likely to be employed and felt dependent on their spouses for income. Today, as more women are gaining a sense of autonomy, they are less likely to tolerate bad behavior like adultery or abuse.

Above all, the main reason older couples get divorced is that they grow apart, according to one therapist. Couples who have been together for 20 years may realize they do not want to spend the next 20 years with someone with whom they are no longer emotionally connected.

Though divorce at any age is complicated, it can be more complicated for older couples who have accumulated more assets. In Florida, a judge must determine how to divide all marital assets “equitably,” or fairly; this does not necessarily mean that marital assets are split 50-50. A family law attorney may help advocate for their clients’ interests in property and other assets.


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