Divorce may be the last thing you expect among people at or near retirement age. But divorces among people over age 50 doubled from 1990 to 2010, according to a study by researchers at Bowling Green State University.
Among reasons for the increase in divorce among boomers:
- Many couples find that once they have an empty nest, they no longer have much in common. Raising kids together can be all-encompassing with little time to maintain a healthy relationship and develop joint interests. Some boomers find that when the kids leave, their connection with each other evaporates.
- Couples who stayed together for their children have no reason to continue the charade when the kids are gone. A divorce may have been brewing for years, reaching full boil when the children are grown.
- People are living longer, retiring later, and seeking a second chance at fulfillment. Fifty is the new 40, and 60 is the new 50. Boomers may find there is still time later in life to find a more joyful relationship.
- Many women work and are financially successful. The economic pressures to stay in an unhappy marriage are gone.
Child custody and child support, two of the most contentious aspects of divorce, are often absent in boomer divorces, meaning they are quieter and simpler than divorces involving couples with minor children. But couples who are middle-age or older do have many other concerns.
The division of marital property, including retirement assets, is frequently an issue for people divorcing later in life. A retirement plan that was created to support a couple living together in one home must be divided and stretched to cover two separate households. One or both spouses may have to delay retirement, making a divorced lifestyle a little more challenging.
The marital home often is a major asset of the marriage that must be divided. Selling a long-time residence may prove traumatic and difficult.
Alimony is another major factor, particularly when one spouse stayed home with the children or has a disability or health problem. Lifetime alimony is more common in boomer divorces than in those involving younger couples. Alimony can complicate a carefully orchestrated retirement plan.