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Late-in-life divorce is on the rise

Research shows that couples over the age of 50 are divorcing at a rate double what they did just a generation ago. For couples over the age of 65, that number is even higher, as these marriages are ending three times more often than they did in 1990. This is in spite of the fact that the overall divorce rate remains steady at about 50 percent of first-time marriages ending in a split.

There isn’t a single cause why late-in-life divorces have risen so rapidly in the past 30 years, but there are a few likely contributing factors.

  • Longer life spans – as we live longer, marriages get correspondingly longer as well. The more time a couple spends together, the higher the chances that they will grow apart. Longer retirement times are also playing a role, as Americans are now living 20, even 30, years past retirement and are unwilling in some instances to spend their remaining years living with someone who makes them unhappy.
  • Increased financial stability – the so-called “baby boomer” generation is among the most financially stable in our country. With economic independence comes the freedom to divorce. Women in particular are enjoying more financial security than in generations past, as many of them have, for the first time, been breadwinners or been part of two-income households.
  • Higher emphasis on personal satisfaction – society as a whole now values personal fulfillment, growth and satisfaction more than ever before. Older couples don’t generally have to stay together for their children, so they may prioritize their own needs and desires to put an end to an unhappy marriage.
  • Reduced stigma surrounding divorce – the baby boomers are often children of divorce themselves, so they are less concerned about how society sees divorce. In any case, society is now much more accepting of divorce these days.

Regardless of age, Kentucky law makes it possible to end a marriage without fault for anyone unwilling or unable to continue.