Archive for August, 2014

What Is Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce seems to be all over the news these days. It’s been written about in a number of high profile magazines and newspapers, and has been all over television and other media as well. So what is it actually, and what explains its recent prominence?


Some people disagree on the exact definition of the phrase, but the general rule of thumb is that it applies to couples who are aged 50 or older. It is typically often used in conjunction with couples of that age who have also been in a long term marriage, as opposed to a short-lived one.

The statistics show that such gray divorces are rising quite rapidly. Since 1990, the divorce rate for couples over the age of 50 has doubled, and it has more than doubled for those aged 65 or more.

To put it another way, one in every four people currently going through a divorce is at least 50 years of age. One out of every 10 is at least 65 years old.

Of all divorces of this type, more than half, or about 55%, are between individuals who have been married for 20 years or longer. More than half are also in their first marriages.

There are several different factors which help to explain the growth of gray divorces. One is that simply put, social standards for both men and women have changed in terms of their definitions of what a happy marriage should look like at that stage of life, and whether or not it’s either “worth it” or “acceptable” to have a divorce at that age.

One issue which also factors into that is that life expectancies are rising. If an individual thinks he’s more likely to live to 85 as opposed to 65, that certainly changes how a divorce at age 60 might look.

As more women have been in the workplace for their entire adult lives, they also have greater financial and social independence. This also spurs on gray divorces as spouses aren’t as potentially dependent on the other even at latter stages of their lives.

So there are a variety of financial, social and personal issues at hand here which factor into the statistical growth of gray divorce. This has been occurring even as the national divorce rate as a whole has been decreasing. In fact, it’s at its lowest ever, at 3.4 per 1,000 people according to the CDC. But yet, gray divorce has been doubling in its prominence.

Each person and each couple is a unique case. However, it’s intriguing to examine overall trends and where our society at large is with such important issues as marriage and divorce.