The latest information from the venerable U.S. Census Bureau reveals that as many as one in four marriages that end these days are those in which one or both members of the couple are over the age of 50. Why are so many older couples in North Dakota and nationwide getting a divorce? This was not always the case and is a fairly new phenomenon. Two decades ago, in 1990, only one in ten U.S. divorces involved someone over age 50.
When you add in those who reach the age of 50 having been previously divorced, the ranks of this generation are understandably filled with many divorced people. Some may remarry, but many may not. Often, remarriages may also end in divorce, and the figures show a relatively high divorce rate for remarriages, including those over 50.
Being a college graduate is a factor that tends to lower the divorce rate, and it is relatively rarer still for marriages to end in divorce when they are longer in duration. Whites and Hispanics apparently divorce at a lower rate than African-Americans, including those over 50, and a variety of socio-economic factors may be involved.
With more people reaching 65, 70 and even 80 than ever before, perhaps an increase in divorces for these ages is not that surprising. Those dissatisfied with their relationship with their spouse may opt out rather than prolong their unhappiness for another 20 or 30 years. Older couples may, at least in some instances, have more financial flexibility to go off on their own too, with accumulated savings, pensions, Social Security benefits, military retirement pay or the option of a reverse mortgage on a paid-off house.
Huffington Post, "Rising Divorce Rates in the 50-Plus Community and What this Means for You" Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Dec. 03, 2013