‘Divorce rising among couples over age 50, raising new money concerns’

12.01.2012, 6:47 PM

Pamela Yip at the Dallas Morning News writes:

The divorce rate among adults age 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, according to a study by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin, sociologists at Bowling Green State University.

“Roughly 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 occurred to persons aged 50 and older,” they said in their study, which was released last month.

What’s more, “the rate of divorce was 2.5 times higher for those in remarriages vs. first marriages, whereas the divorce rate declined as marital duration rose.”

The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world, with roughly 45 percent of marriages expected to end in divorce, the study said.

“Although divorce has been studied extensively among younger adults, the research to date has essentially ignored divorce that occurs to adults aged 50 and older,” Brown and Lin said. “This omission is notable, considering that the United States is an aging society.”

Baby boomers were the first group to divorce and remarry in large numbers in young adulthood, the study said.

“Now they’re aging into their 50s and 60s, and this portends that a growing number of older adults will experience divorce because remarriages are more likely than first marriages to end through divorce,” the study said…

2 Responses to “‘Divorce rising among couples over age 50, raising new money concerns’”

  1. Diane M says:

    I wonder, though, how much of this is being driven by the fact that the generation includes a lot of people who have been divorced before? Remarriages usually end in divorce, so a group of people that includes a lot of divorced people is likely to include a lot of people getting remarried and divorced.

    Following that thought, if the marriages that are ending are second marriages, are they as bad financially? Could some of the couples have kept their money more separate? Or does it still end up hurting them?

    Although, even if the divorce rate is being driven by second or third marriages ending, it would be good to do things to help couples have better marriages. Someone should probably be developing marriage enrichment programs aimed at older couples, possibly mostly at remarried older couples.

  2. Diane M says:

    Odds and ends of comments on the article:

    1. Some couples may be getting divorced in order to be able to get long-term health care without using up all their assets. Changing the laws would be a way to help people stay married. It must be awful to feel you have to divorce someone you love in order to pay their medical bills.

    2. One of the remarried couples had trouble maintaining their marriage because they were caregivers for older relatives. This could be a factor for a lot of people and figuring out a way to support caregivers would strengthen marriage.

    3. I definitely agree with this:
    “Keeping marriages intact among older people should concern society as a whole, Brown said.” Marriage can help people financially, and this is probably even more true when you are older.

    4. “Experts said one reason for rising divorce rates among older couples may be that longer life expectancies have forced some to evaluate whether they want to spend the second half of their life with their spouse.” I think people are being a little unrealistic about how much money they will have and how much they will have health problems and not be able to afford being divorced. (Also, it’s probably just a figure of speech, but when you are over 50, it’s really not the second half of your life.)

    5. I have a hard time taking Pepper Shwartz seriously for marriage advice. The idea that she is the AARP relationship expert makes me giggle a little.