1 in 4 Getting Divorced Are Over 50

Who would have thought that divorce among those aged 50 to 64 has spiked?

Susan L. Brown is the co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green University in Ohio. Her research shows that:

  • one in four people getting divorced is over the age of 50. In 1990, it was less than one in 10.
  • the divorce rate for those 50 to 64 increased from 6.9 divorces per 1,000 marriages in 1990 to 12.6 in 2009. At the same time, the overall divorce rate in the United States dropped from 18.95 to 17.92.

According to an Orlando Sentinel article, “retired couples often face difficulties in adjusting to a life together that doesn’t include work. Spouses who once defined themselves by what they did at work can experience an identity crisis once they stop working. Meanwhile, spouses accustomed to being alone most of the day must adjust to having somebody else around, disrupting their routines. Good marriages survive that retirement transition. Bad marriages can be made worse.”

If one or both of the spouses experienced divorce in the past, they are more at risk to divorce later in life, Brown said. The divorce rate for aging boomers is twice as high for those who were previously divorced.

“If, historically, most older adults have been married and have a spouse to provide care, increasingly that is not going to be the case,” Brown said. “If we don’t have that spouse present, then it becomes a challenge for society.”