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Gray divorce has far-reaching consequences

Virginia readers may have heard that gray divorce is on the rise. In fact, the divorce rates for couples ages 50 and above has doubled since 1990, while the rate for those ages 65 and above has tripled. Meanwhile, the divorce rates for all other age groups have been declining.

While gray divorce may seem to only impact those directly involved, the phenomenon actually has far-reaching social consequences. For example, adult children can be deeply shaken by their parents’ split, and it can cause them to question the status of their own marriages. Divorce can also be contagious. Recent studies have shown that people are much more likely to get a divorce if they have a friend who has gone through the process.

Gray divorce can also have a profound economic impact on couples, particularly on those who rely on a shared income to make ends meet. A 2014 federal report found that a single person age 65 or above requires 79 percent of a two-person income in order to survive. Further, losing that income often harms women more than men. Studies show that divorced women ages 65 or above are 80 percent more likely to experience poverty than men in the same age bracket. Finally, later life divorce can also contribute to loneliness, as the end of a marriage often leads to the loss of friends, in-laws and social networks. As a result, many relationship experts urge couples who are merely discontented in their marriages to consider trying to work through their problems and stay together. Weathering a marital rough patch can sometimes lead to a happier and healthier relationship.

Individuals considering divorce may benefit from speaking to a family law attorney about their situation. The attorney could offer professional guidance and help negotiate important divorce agreements.

Source: USA Today, “Being older doesn’t make divorce any wiser: Families like mine fight to buck divorce trend,” Teresa Collett, Sept. 6, 2018