As life spans continue to lengthen for the average American, more and more people over the age of 50 are dissolving their long-term marriages, recent statistics indicate. Fewer than 10 percent of divorcees in 1990 were over 50, but today nearly 25 percent of all divorce in Texas and nationally is between couples approaching or in their golden years. Experts suggest many reasons why this might be the case.

The phenomenon, which is being referred to as “gray divorce,” seems to have been jump-started by the baby boomer generation, just as the same demographic gave rise to the rising divorce rates in the 1970s. Experts attribute this sudden shift to changing social roles, including the shift toward egalitarianism in the so-called “breadwinner” role. In addition, many boomers have already embarked upon second or third marriages, which are at higher risk to end in divorce.

It is also common for boomers to reevaluate their lives and marriages upon reaching major milestones, such as retirement or when their children leave home. As “gray divorce” is a relatively new phenomenon, there is no historical precedent on which to gauge how divorce will influence and impact the elder population as time goes on. Some experts express concern that single boomers are at higher economic risk than married couples, as well as being in poorer health. However, the argument still remains: is one truly better off remaining in an unhappy marriage, despite these external considerations?

Boomers in Texas may well face many more life transitions in the coming years, and it is possible that divorce may be one of them. Given the additional risks faced by divorcees over 50, it is especially important for this demographic to remain knowledgeable about the latest Texas divorce laws and regulations. It may mean the difference between a satisfying single life and a potentially difficult transition.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “A ‘gray divorce’ boom,” Susan L. Brown, March 31, 2013