An increasing number of older couples in Illinois and across the U.S. are choosing to end their marriages. In fact, while the divorce rates for all other age groups has declined, the divorce rate for people age 50 and up has doubled over the last three decades. Meanwhile, the divorce rate for people age 65 and up has tripled over the same period.
Some divorce experts are alarmed by this trend, known as “gray divorce,” and want to see it reversed. They point out that divorce can harm not only the couple who splits up, but it can also harm others around them. For example, studies show that children of divorce are more likely to have their own marriages end in divorce. Even people who are adults when their parents split tend to be shaken by the event and question the state of their own romantic relationships. In addition, divorce can spread like a virus. A recent study found that people are more likely to divorce if they know a friend or an acquaintance who has ended their marriage.
As for the divorcing couple, splitting up can cause tremendous financial burdens, particularly for those with lower incomes. A 2014 government report found that a single person age 65 or above typically requires 79 percent of a two-person income in order to get by. Studies also show that older women are 80 percent more likely than older men to end up in poverty following a divorce. Finally, gray divorce can contribute to loneliness among the senior population. This is because divorce not only means the loss of a spouse, but it also often means the loss of friends, extended family and social networks.
A family law attorney may offer legal guidance to individuals considering gray divorce. Legal counsel may help negotiate a divorce settlement that meets a client’s financial needs.