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Divorce on the rise for middle-aged, elderly

It's no secret that divorce rates are on the rise amongst American couples. The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world, with roughly 45 percent of all marriages ultimately expected to end in a legal separation.

Now, a new study has produced additional insight into the ongoing divorce trend. From 1990 to 2010, the divorce rate among adults 50 and over doubled, according to sociologists at Bowling Green State University. Nearly one in four divorces that took place in 2010 was between the middle-aged and elderly, the study found.

What makes for the stark rise in older, "gray divorce"? One factor may be remarriage. The same study found that divorces took place at a considerably elevated rate if both partners had been already previously married and divorced . First marriages stood a much better chance of lasting, even amongst baby-boomers.

Another source of the elderly population's elevated divorce rate is likely the increase in life expectancies. Longer lives, and thus, longer marriages have brought many to reevaluate whether their current relationship is worth continuing, given that decades of time together may still be to come.

Even for some couples who are happy with their partners, divorce may be a financially prudent move. Should a husband or wife develop a serious medical condition demanding prolonged treatment and care, their partner is at risk of losing all their own assets while attending to them. Provisions in Medicaid and Medicare may delay benefits for the sick, if a married spouse has funds of their own to continue paying for treatment. Divorce in this situation might allow a happy couple to legally separate and still live together, while opening up important government benefits.

As older couples more and more reevaluate their lives and the likelihood that their current spouse could be with them for numerous decades to come, divorce may very well arise as the best personal and financial option to pursue. In that case, getting in touch with a family law attorney can help get a successful legal separation process underway.

Source: Dallas News, "Divorce rising among couples over 50, raising new money concerns," Pamela Yip, Nov. 30, 2012

• Our firm helps those in need of a divorce reach the best possible arrangement.  For more information, contact our Dallas family law page.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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