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Potential factors causing high "gray divorce" rates

Spokane residents who have been in troubled relationships know what an impact and toll it can take on everyday life. As previously mentioned in this blog, divorce can happen to all types of couples, and more frequently, at all ages - including the newly termed "gray divorce." While the recent statistical increase in gray divorce has been noted, new theories attempting to shed light on why older couples are choosing divorce continue to emerge.

According to Bowling Green State University sociologists, divorces among couples aged 50 and up have doubled in the past 20 years. Some have hypothesized that the increase is due to the generational differences between previous gray couples and the "Baby Boomer" generation. Psychotherapists believe that previous generations married for stricter reasons, such as finances or children. However, psychotherapists speculate that the Boomer generation is focused upon self-fulfillment and personal happiness, and therefore are less afraid to turn to divorce. As a result, the Boomer generation's philosophy could be contributing to higher divorce rates among older couples.

Additionally, the current economic climate for women is much different from 20 years ago, and might help to explain the decision for women to leave a relationship. In today's climate, women are more financially and economically independent than women were 20 years ago. In fact, statistics show that in 66 percent of cases, women are the ones seeking divorce.

Moreover, the rapid evolution of social media may be a factor in higher divorce rates among older couples. As a result of dating websites and online pages to reconnect with individuals from one's past, future potential partners are just a click away.

From a legal perspective, divorce at a later age can bring additional challenges that younger couples going through a divorce may not face. Typically, couples who have been together longer have more assets to divide, as well as consideration of retirement accounts. Because of the larger amount of assets, the time required to get an equitable distribution of assets may also increase. Additionally, the relationship between spouses at the time of divorce can impact the speed and ability to settle the division of assets.

While ideally most of us hope to find a lasting and fulfilling relationship, the Boomer generation is showing that settling for anything less than happiness might be a thing of the past.

Source: CBS News, "'Gray divorces' increasing sharply," Oct. 13, 2012

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