Divorce, like most things, moves with the times. While divorce has become less frequent overall, it has become more common among those aged over 55.
Why has divorce become less frequent?
The rate of divorce is at its lowest in years. There are several reasons to explain this:
- People are getting married later: The average age of getting married for the first time is 28 for a woman and 30 for a man. That is six years older than the average age in 1980.
- Couples are more likely to have lived together before marrying: Cohabiting before tying the knot is now more prevalent than waiting until you are married to move in together.
Both factors mean that people can better judge whether they are marrying the correct person or not.
Why has gray divorce risen?
The one area of divorce that has risen is that among over 55-year-olds. Here are some reasons:
- People live longer: Improvements in health care and sanitation have raised life expectancy. There is less reason to stick it out in an unhappy marriage when you know you still have many years ahead of you.
- Women are more financially independent: If you grew up believing, or at least being told, that your life’s work was to raise children, then you had little chance to build a career. Nowadays, many more women pursue their own careers and achieve financial independence. They can afford to divorce more easily than their predecessors could.
- Second marriages are more frequent: In 40% of marriages, one of the spouses has been married before. In 20% of weddings, both have previously been married. Once you have divorced once, you will be more likely to do it again.
Regardless of trends, every divorce is a highly personal decision. If you are considering ending your marriage, look at the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce.