In 2020, both marriage and divorce rates dropped. Some experts had predicted that divorce would skyrocket because COVID-19 lockdowns put a strain on married couples. Also, some people may have decided to wait until after the public health emergency before ending their marriage. However, rates have been rising since 1990 for one group. That’s because gray divorce is on the rise.
What is gray divorce?
This term has been around for a while. Gray divorce refers to divorces or legal separations among people who are at least age 50. Most gray divorces at this time are from the baby boomer generation. A gray divorce is also called a “diamond divorce” or “silver splitter.” Typically, the couple has been married for a long time.
An article published by AARP in 2004 is credited with coining the phrase to describe late-in-life divorces.
How common is this type of divorce or legal separation?
According to some studies, divorce among the over-50 crowd has doubled since 1990. Researchers from the magazine Psychology Today expect the rate to triple by 2030.
As noted above, gray divorce rates continue to rise even though other age groups’ rates remain stable or decreasing. Divorce rates for couples with at least one person over age 65 have risen even more than those aged 50 to 65.
What’s behind the rise in gray divorce?
At this moment in history, you might guess that too much togetherness during lockdowns is the reason that older couples are splitting up. But gray divorce has been increasing since long before the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Here are a few reasons for the phenomenon:
- Life Expectancy. Generally, baby boomers can expect to live longer than their parents. For people in unhappy marriages, this is the time to find out what will make them truly happy. Also, unhappy or indifferent couples may realize they just don’t want to retire together.
- Empty Nest. Many couples re-examine their lives after their children leave home. Others might have stayed together only for the children and now would like a quick exit. If so, gray divorce might be their best option.
- Repeat Divorce. Some gray divorcees are terminating long-term marriages. But it’s not uncommon for couples to be on the second or third marriage when they hit age 50. Since the divorce rate is higher for subsequent marriages, repeat divorce could be fueling the rise in gray divorce.
- Employment and Career Changes. Women who stayed home to raise children sometimes start new careers after the children leave home. This can cause friction with spouses. It can also create dissatisfaction with wives who want to move ahead – with or without their husbands. In addition, husbands might also hope to make a career change whether the wife goes along or not.
It is possible that COVID-19 also played a part in the rise of gray divorce. Worry and frustration coupled with forced togetherness might have weakened marital bonds, no matter how long the knot has been tied.
Is a Gray Divorce in Your Future?
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.