Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 17, 2013 — Divorce among those over 50, or “gray divorce,” is on the rise, according to both an academic study and an informal poll.
Researchers at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Ohio recently released a study entitled “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” which tracked the gray divorce rate from 1990 to 2009. And the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) polled its members on whether they have seen an increase in gray divorce cases.
“As a family law attorney in Florida, where seniors make up a large portion of our population, I see a lot of so-called ‘gray divorce,’” said Tampa divorce attorney Joshua Law. “Divorces between seniors present a different set of challenges than those of younger couples. For instance, child custody is usually not an issue in gray divorces, but there may be significantly more assets to account for. Social Security, pensions and retirement accounts all factor heavily into divorces among seniors.”
Researchers at BGSU’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research compiled data from the 1990 U.S. Vital Statistics Report and the 2009 American Community Survey and examined the rate of divorce in each time period. They found that the rate of divorce among adults over age 50 doubled between 1990 and 2009. In the latter year, about 25 percent of divorces were gray divorces.
The AAML polled the 1,600 attorneys who make up its membership and asked whether they had seen an increase in divorces in the over-50 demographic in their practices. Of those who responded, 61 percent reported seeing an increase in gray divorces.
These data contrast sharply with divorce rates among the younger set. Reports by the U.S. Census Bureau and others show that during the same period, divorce rates among all other age groups fell.
“Alimony may also play a different role in gray divorces,” added Law. “Older couples have often been together for a long time, and so if one of them has been out of the workforce for a significant length of time, their job opportunities may be slim to none, forcing them to depend largely on alimony. Moreover, most senior couples got married in a time when single-income households were far more common than today.”
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