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Gray Divorces on the rise

As times change, so do people. Attitudes towards marriage are often affected by changes in culture both in Massachusetts and throughout the country, and a recent divorce statistic is showing how drastically opinions on divorce may have shifted over the years. The growing trends of divorces amongst individuals above the age of 50 has become a more common occurrence, so much so that sociologists have given it the label "gray divorces," and a recent study shows this trend may continue to be on the rise.

According to an academic study of recent census data, women are seeing increased economic autonomy while cultural approval of divorce rates is likewise increasing. Both of these factors play into a statistical trend which shows that gray divorces are becoming more and more common. In fact, the numbers of people who are divorced now exceed the amount of people who are widowed.

In just over 50 years ago, the divorce rate amongst those older than 50 was at 2.8 percent. According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, that percentage has now increased to 15.4 percent divorced with an additional 2.1 percent separated. The divorce rates for this age bracket have continued to rise since the 1990s, when one of the largest increases occurred, resulting in nearly double the amount of divorces.

There are many economic consequences of these types of divorces. Researchers at Bowling Green State University have stated that some divorces of this variety can contribute to economic hardship, which can also put a strain on sources of support funding such as certain governmental programs. There are also factors in the divorce process itself, which shift depending on the age of the individuals as well.

When getting a divorce, the property division can be affected by the age of the individuals and the length of the marriage. Those who have been married for a significant amount of time likely share a great deal of marital assets which are eligible to be divided amongst them. Additionally, issues such as dividing investments or retirement funds also become a consideration that could have a significant impact on life after divorce. Discussing these issues with an experienced family law attorney can help those considering a divorce best understand their options.

Source: New York Times, "Divorce After 50 Grows More Common," Sam Roberts, Sept. 20, 2013

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