Divorce among older people in Pennsylvania is becoming more and more common. In fact, retirement age divorce has increased so much in recent years that it is being called “gray divorce” by researchers. The increase is happening at the same time that divorce among people under age 50 is declining.
Divorce has doubled for people over 50
A 2012 study by Bowling Green State University found that the divorce rate among couples over the age of 50 doubled in 20 years. During the same time, the divorce rate among couples over 65 more than doubled.
Given the fact that half of all married couples are over age 50, researchers project that gray divorce will continue to increase as the years go by. By 2030, Bowling Green researchers say that divorce rates in people over 50 will increase by one-third.
Gray divorce is not isolated to the U.S.
The divorce trends that were noted by Bowling Green researchers in the U.S. are similar to the divorce trends in many other countries. Japan, Australia, India, and countries in Europe are also seeing an explosion in gray divorce.
In the U.K., people over the age of 55 who get a divorce are referred to as “silver splitters.” In 2018, the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics announced that the number of “silver splitters” had doubled. Japan noticed a quadrupling of gray divorces, or what the Japanese call “Retired Husband Syndrome,” over the past two decades.
Divorcing later in life can be very different
From a family law perspective, gray divorce is very different than divorcing while children are still young. For couples that have children, there are usually no child custody issues to sort out in a gray divorce. However, that doesn’t mean that divorce won’t still be difficult for a couple’s adult children.
Gray divorces often have more complex property division negotiations than divorces among younger couples. Retired people have had decades to accumulate wealth. Dividing retirement accounts and altering estate plans are other issues that have to be addressed.