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Retirement Disagreements Could Explain Grey Divorce Rates

This article looks at how disagreements about retirement planning can be a harbinger of divorce.

It is no secret that the divorce rate for older Americans is on the rise. Since 1990 the rate at which people aged 50 and over are divorcing has more than doubled. Despite the fact that divorce is actually declining for younger Americans, for Baby Boomers the divorce rate continues to climb. While many theories have been put forward about why the so-called grey divorce rate is on the rise, a recent survey suggests disagreements about retirement planning could be a major source of tension in older marriages.

Grey Divorce Keeps Rising

Grey divorce is nothing new, but it has reached record levels in recent years. As Time reports, about a quarter of all divorces now involve at least one spouse who is over 50. About a tenth of all divorces involve someone over 64. Even some factors that usually protect against divorce don't seem to be working for older couples. For example, people with a college education are typically half as likely to divorce as those with just a high school education. The only exception to this rule is among those who are over 50.

The grey divorce boom can partly be explained by the fact that older people are more likely to be on their second or third marriages, which are statistically more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. However, about half of all grey divorces still involve people who have been married for more than 20 years.

Retirement Disagreements to Blame?

There are a lot of different theories as to why grey divorce is becoming so popular. One is that more women are in the workplace now and can thus support themselves financially after a divorce. Another is that Americans are simply living longer and many don't quite like the idea of spending two or three more decades with a partner they no longer have a connection with.

However, retirement planning may be one of the big reasons many older Americans are calling it quits. As the Washington Post reports, about one in three couples disagree about their retirement plans. While such disagreements are easily swept under the rug when the spouses are busy working or raising children, they tend to become much more urgent and harder to overcome when retirement is on the horizon.

Divorce and Retirement

Divorcing later in life can be a roller coaster ride both emotionally and financially. On one hand, divorce can bring a sense of liberation, while on the other hand it can cause quite a bit of financial stress. By talking to an attorney, those who are considering getting divorced will be able to mitigate some of the financial fallout. An attorney can advise clients about how to negotiate an effective division of property so that they will have the financial resources they need to better enjoy their retirements.