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Why more couples over 50 are calling it quits

A recent study from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University revealed that the divorce rate among people age 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, while the divorce rate among the general population leveled off.

"In 1990, only 1 in 10 divorces were people 50 and older. Now it's 1 in 4," the lead researcher said in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune. The researcher, who is a sociology professor, said several factors are contributing to the rise in divorce among the baby boomer generation.

For one, she said that the baby boomer generation is huge in numbers, so there are simply more people over the age of 50 these days. Next, she said more women have jobs of their own, which means they are less dependent on their husbands and therefore less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage.

Additionally, the sociology professor said divorce is less of a taboo than it was years ago, and people over the age of 50 are now less likely to follow their churches' "no divorce" policies. 

Another interesting point made by the sociologist is that some of the same factors that can rekindle a marriage are also ones that can push a couple to divorce. For example, when children grow up and leave the nest, it can either be a help or a hindrance to the marriage. If the couple has nothing in common other than their kids, they are more likely to split once the kids have left the house.

One Illinois woman said she got divorced after realizing in 2011 that she had a "new life." The 65-year-old said she had imagined spending her retirement traveling with her husband, but that wasn't the case. The woman added that even though her parents spent 56 years together, "it doesn't always turn out that way."

Indeed, as people are living longer, healthier lives, they may be less inclined to spend their golden years with spouses they are unhappy with. Couples who find themselves in this situation should consult experienced family law attorneys to discuss their options, including divorce or legal separation.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Divorce way up with over-65 set," Leslie Mann, May 29, 2013

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