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Why have divorce rates doubled among married couples 50 and older?

Many people previously believed that if a married couple made it past the five or 10-year marriage mark, they were likely to stay together forever. Older couples who were married for 20 or more years were typically only driven apart by the death of one spouse. However, within the last 25 years, researchers have reported a noted increase in the percentage of couples aged 50 and older who are choosing to divorce.

Since 1990, the divorce rate among middle-age and older adults has doubled from roughly five out of every 1,000 to 10 out of every 1,000 marriages. Social scientists attribute the increase to numerous factors including the financial independence of working women, longer life expectancies and increased social acceptance of divorce.

Given all of these factors, it's more important than ever that spouses who are nearing retirement age communicate about their needs and wants with regard to how they want to live out their golden years.

Too often, spouses are not on the same page when it comes to the timing of retirement as well as their plans for retirement. For example, one spouse may decide to retire as soon as he or she turns age 62 whereas the other may wish to keep working full or part-time for many more years. Regardless, these types of decisions should be discussed as they impact a couple's finances as well as both spouses' ability to live out their retirement dreams.

When spouses have very different views about and plans for retirement, arguments may develop that serve to drive a wedge between spouses. In some cases, spouses' plans for retirements may be so different that they come to realize they have little to nothing in common anymore.

At any age, divorce can be difficult and complicated. However, for individuals who are nearing or in retirement, there are specific financial questions and concerns that must be addressed.

Source: USA Today, "Couples have to negotiate their visions of retirement," Nanci Hellmich, June 28, 2015

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