Berman & Asbel, LLP

Divorce among older adults on the rise

Couples who are at over the age of 55 were more than twice as likely to seek a divorce in 2012 than they were in 1990. For people 65 and older, the rate was three times higher compared to 1990. Experts speculate that changing attitudes in that generation about marriage and divorce along with women's financial independence, more relaxed laws in Pennsylvania and other states governing divorce and longer life spans are all contributors to the higher divorce rate.

This rate of divorce among older adults has kept half of all marriages ending in divorce even though the rate has slowed among younger couples. However, even this is not necessarily indicative of an overall trend toward fewer divorces. People are marrying later or not at all and opting for cohabitation instead. Furthermore, first marriages last an average of about a dozen years prior to their falling apart, so there might still be a wave of millennial divorces in the future.

People do tend to remarry with less frequency than in the past, and since subsequent marriages are more likely to end than first marriages, this could also drive overall divorce statistics down. However, experts say that based on current trends, the adage that half of all marriages end in divorce may continue to be true.

Older adults who are divorcing may not have child custody issues to work out, but they might have more assets to divide and retirement accounts to protect. A spouse who has not worked outside the home throughout the marriage may be concerned about whether alimony will available. Both the recipient and the payer might worry about how the arrangement will affect their financial security. Attorneys will often suggest that their clients try to work out an agreement through mediation or negotiation rather than turning the decision over to a judge if possible.

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