Study: Divorce After 50 Rising Despite Looming Retirement

“Gray Divorce” is on the rise – in spite of the extra challenges posed by a lengthy marriage and looming retirement.

Michele E. D’Onofrio on division of pensions and retirement plans after divorce

Deciding to divorce is a difficult choice that leads to a challenging process for any couple, regardless of age or economic standing. Although divorce rates across the general population have flattened out in recent years, a 2013 study finds that divorce rates among couples aged 50 and over are on the rise – in spite of the extra challenges posed by a lengthy marriage and looming retirement.

The study, aptly titled “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” reveals a recent surge in divorce rates among couples over 50. In fact, one out of four couples that divorced in 2010 were over the age of 50. The findings, produced by the National Center for Marriage & Family Research at Bowling Green State University, are particularly noteworthy considering that only one in ten divorcing couples in 1990 was over 50.

Divorce as a Threat to Retirement 

Divorcing men and women aged 50 and above face a number of challenges not applicable to their younger counterparts. One of the major issues is that as retirement draws near, divorce can pose more serious risks to the financial stability of each partner. 

On one hand, it can be liberating that older adults are now accepting of divorce, often due to the fact that many of them know other people who have experienced it. However, it is undeniable that divorce becomes more of a financial burden the closer a couple gets to retirement. Couples over 50 must contend with dividing up businesses, real estate, and debts as well as dividing retirement plans, including Social Security.

The financial cost of divorce after 50 combined with the sudden loss of a dual income can push retirement further and further away at a time when it should be growing more attainable than ever. With a limited timeframe to recover from the losses and costs of divorce, men and women over 50 often require greater financial aid and guidance while going through the process of ending a marriage.

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