While the overall rate of divorce in the United States is declining, more baby boomers are splitting up. Whether it is a change in generational values or the function of the economy, more middle-aged people are choosing to start over rather than maintain troubled marriages. In fact, census and research data suggest that people in their 50’s are twice as likely to divorce today compared to 1990. Also, 1 in 4 divorces involve older couples, compared to 1 in 15 in 1990.
Researchers have unearthed several reasons behind this trend. Of course, many couples stayed together for the sake of their children. They maintained a facade to give the kids a sense of family and stability, but once they grew up and moved away, there was nothing left to the marriage. Once this happens, couples prefer to spend their golden years happy (and single) instead of being trapped in an unhappy marriage.
Researchers also found that more professional women were able to make lives for themselves (and their children) even after divorce. In past generations, women did not have the same professional opportunities as men, even though they may have gone to college and obtained degrees. Nowadays, financially stable women are less likely to stay in troubled marriages. The typical baby boomer couple has a net worth that is 20 times greater than a divorcing couple in their 20’s. This means that a share of a couple’s IRA, 401k or pension plan can finance a new start. As such, the specter of starting over is not so daunting.
Data further shows that baby boomers are incorporating some of the same lifestyles adopted by Generation X. More than 2.7 million Americans are cohabitating instead of getting married. Also, with divorce being much more common and socially acceptable, more midlife divorcees are seeing divorce as a new beginning instead of a failure.
If you have questions about the legal implications of a divorce, an experienced family law attorney can help.