Divorce Rates Among the Graying Population


The divorce rate among those 50 and over – so-called “gray divorces” – has more than doubled over the last two decades, according to a study released this year by sociologists at Bowling Green State University.

That study, called “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” predicted the number of post 50 divorces could easily surpass 800,000 per year by 2030. In comparison, more than 600,000 people age 50 and older got divorced in 2009 – or one in four; in 1990, only one in 10 people 50 and older got divorced.

The study also found that those over 50 in a second or third marriage (as opposed to a first) have a 150 percent greater likelihood of divorcing.

The issue of gray divorces has been in the spotlight recently thanks to the breakup of long-time celebrity couple Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, who split this year following 30 years of marriage. But plenty of other celebrity couples have called it quits including Jessica Lange and actor-writer Sam Shepard, who parted ways in 2009 after 27 years together, as well as Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, who split in 2009 after 23 years together.

Licensed psychotherapist Rachel Sussman (author of The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce”) said there are many reasons behind the uptick in gray divorces.

“Boomers’ quest for happiness in their lives, empty nest, women working and having more financial independence and confidence, people living longer … all are reasons,” she said.

Other experts point to the ability of people to easily reconnect with those from their past via social media — as well as hook up with potential partners via online dating sites — as a contributing factor. Indeed the number of dating-site users 50 or older has grown twice as fast as any other age group over the past year, according to comScore.com.


“People divorcing in their 50s have made it through the raising-little-kids-boot-camp phase of marriage when no one gets their needs met but the children,” said Pamela Zivari, an attorney and conflict resolution professional. “Fifty-year-olds leave usually not because of a tragedy, but because they are unfulfilled.

“Unlike people in their 30s and 40s who want to start over from the very beginning, divorcing 50-year=olds have usually made a sober assessment, ‘does this relationship, on balance, bring me enough happiness and security that I will forego the heartbreak and uncertainty I would create for all the family members if I decided to jump ship at this stage?’” she said.


According to a 2004 AARP survey, 66 percent of divorces among people ages 40 to 69 are initiated by women.  The same survey found that infidelity wasn’t the overriding catalyst. Just 27 percent of those seeking a gray divorce cited infidelity among their top three reasons for doing so — which is on par with estimates of infidelity as a factor in divorce in the general population.

(This article is in full presentation at the link below. This blog merely presents portions of the longer article. It is not my original writing but that of huffingtonpost.com)




(My addition)

Still-successful celebrity marriages are an encouragement. See some of them below:

Denzel and Pauletta Washington – 29 years

Billy and Janice Crystal – 42 years

Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara – 58 year

Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson  – 32 Years

Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach -31 Years

Ann-Margret and Roger Smith -45 Years

Suzanne Somers and Alan Hamel -35 Years (talk and great sex)

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber – 25 years

Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk – 38 years

Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross – 28 years

Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss – 51 years

Meryl Streep and Don Gummer – 34 years

Bill and Camille Cosby – 48 years

Alan and Arlene Alda – 55 years

Christopher and Georgianne Walken – 43 years


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