Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Divorce Law is Getting Grayer

If you practice family law, you might have noticed your clientele is becoming grayer.

That’s because the divorce rate for seniors has reached an all-time high, and the consequences are rippling through healthcare, housing and divorce court.

More than one-third of people who file for divorce are 50 or older, according to US statistics. In the two decades from 1990 to 2010, the over-50 divorce rate doubled, causing what observers call  a “gray divorce revolution.” For those over 65, the divorce rate is still rising.

One direct effect: a record 38 million US adults now live alone.

“The number of older Americans living alone is on the rise,” according to CNN. “Nearly 16 million people aged 65 and older in the US lived solo in 2022, three times as many who lived alone in that age group in the 1960s. And as Baby Boomers age, that number is expected to grow even more, raising big questions about the country’s future.” 

The recent celebrity splits of Bill and Melinda Gates and Justin and Sophie Trudeau after many decades together is illustrative of this trend.

“Some older people initiating divorces feel they’ve simply drifted too far apart from their spouses, while some have suffered abuse or discovered shocking transgressions,” says one family law practitioner in the CNN piece. “All of them – including some clients in their 80s – feel like any years of life they have left are too precious to spend with the wrong person.”

Read more at National Center for Family & Marriage Research.

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Sharp Rise in Gray Divorces

Here are some takeaways from the CNN article, “More Baby Boomers are living alone – one reason is ‘gray divorce.’” 

  • The pandemic and its attendant stressors are believed to have accelerated senior divorces.
  • Some family lawyers prefer the term “silver splitters,” which suggests the benefits of a fresh start, regardless of age.
  • In the first few years after divorce, about half the silver splitters are still living alone, while the other half have remarried or found a new life partner.
  • The trend is expected to continue as Baby Boomers reach their twilight years.
  • Research shows that people living alone have higher levels of loneliness, which increases with age.
  • Research also shows significant health consequenceslinked to loneliness and social isolation.

Source: More Baby Boomers are living alone. One reason why: ‘gray divorce’ | CNN


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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