Why gray divorces keep rising

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2024 | Family Law

Whether you call it a “gray divorce” or a “silver split,” one thing is for certain: the faces of divorce have changed. 

Overall divorce rates have fallen dramatically – except among the older generations. While it was once deemed unlikely for long-term couples in their late 50s, 60s and beyond to divorce, such splits are becoming increasingly common

There are likely several factors in play

The gray divorce phenomenon isn’t attributed to any one thing, and it’s likely a reflection of overall societal changes, such as:

  • Increased life expectancies: Longer life expectancies mean that people are spending more years in adulthood and retirement. As a result, they may reassess their priorities and seek fulfillment in their later years – even when that means parting ways with their long-term spouse.
  • Ideological divides: There was an uptick in gray divorces right around the time there started to be social rifts along ideological lines. As people have become more polarized about hot topics (from politics to vaccines), couples sometimes develop disparate world views they can’t reconcile.
  • Changing gender dynamics: Traditional gender roles within marriages have evolved significantly, with women gaining greater economic independence and social autonomy. Consequently, women have more autonomy and power of their own, making it more likely that they’ll leave a bad marriage.
  • Empty nest syndrome: With adult children leaving the family home to pursue their own lives, some couples find themselves at a crossroads. The absence of shared parental responsibilities may reveal underlying fissures in the relationship.
  • Increased social acceptance: As societal attitudes towards divorce have become more accepting, older adults feel less stigmatized or constrained by social expectations. It’s no longer “disreputable” to be divorced, and that makes it easier to see divorce as a viable option in the pursuit of personal happiness.

Whatever the reasons, if you find yourself at a crossroads with your spouse, learning more about how the divorce process works and what you can expect may help you come to some decisions.