We discussed in a previous post how some demographics – Generation X and Millennials – are bucking the trend of divorce and staying married.

This definitely isn’t the case for older Americans, though. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that divorces for couples age 50 and older nationwide have more than doubled since the 1990s.

No one single reason explains the uptick in these so-called gray divorces. Some of the likely factors include:

  • Longer life spans – American males can now expect to live until about 79 years of age, with women living until around 83 on average. This longer life span gives people more time to grow dissatisfied with a marriage and decide to make a move to further their own happiness.
  • Increased societal emphasis on personal satisfaction – society used to teach us that the emphasis was on a couple as a whole, not on the individual spouses; now things are much different. An increased societal emphasis on personal satisfaction and fulfillment, and not wanting to stay in a marriage where those things aren’t present, most likely has contributed to the rising divorce rate among seniors.
  • Financial independence for women – More women are the primary breadwinners in the relationship. Increased financial freedom goes hand in hand with the ability to leave an unhappy marriage.

Even though divorces are more common among older couples, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t difficult. Years of pent-up frustration can lead to contention in a divorce, which is why it’s vitally important for older couples to consider non-adversarial methods of divorce like collaborative law and mediation.

Agreeing at the outset to work cooperatively can resolve things in a much more time-efficient and cost-effective manner. Following this approach often allows each former spouse to move through the divorce process quicker and start anew on a better financial footing.