Metro area seeing a spike in 'gray' divorces

Baby boomer couples are calling it quits

Don Ames
August 19, 2019 - 11:09 am

A national divorce trend is also keeping lawyers busy here in New Orleans. 

'Till death do us part' seems to have less meaning now for those who are currently closer to that endpoint in their lives. 

Whether you call them 'silver splitters' or 'diamond divorcees,' more and more baby boomer couples are getting divorced at a time you'd expect them to be settling into retirement together.

"I represent a lot of people in the metro area who, in the latter part of their lives, or 'the golden years' of their lives, have decided they want to move on from the relationship that they're in, whether male or female," says local divorce attorney, Stephen Rue.

That's supported by news out of Bowling Green State University, whose National Center for Family & Marriage Research recently did some research on marriage and divorce rates and found some stark generational differences. 

The overall divorce rate fell 29% from 1979 to 2017, reaching its lowest point in 40 years. The divorce rate for 15- to 24-year-olds in that time span dropped 43%, and was down nearly a third for 25- to 34-year-olds. Not much changed for 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds. 

But, it's tripled for those 50 and older. 

"I do think there's a move for people to be more independent in life and not rely on the other spouse for all of that individual's needs, financial and otherwise," says Rue.

"And so, I'm seeing a lot of women and men come into my office who are 50 and above that say 'Well, we're empty-nesters now, our children are out of college or out of school and it's time for us to separate. It's a long time coming."

Rue says a lot of them married young and are already in their second marriages...which puts them at an even greater risk of divorce.

"The more divorces one has, statistically, the less chances of surviving the next marriage. In other words, the divorce rate goes up higher every time you get divorced."

"A lot of people get into marriages thinking that 'this person is not exactly right for me, but I can change them'. I'm telling you right here and now, the chance of you changing another person is very slight."

"They keep on having the expectancy of being able to change someone and it doesn't work out. So they go and try to change someone else and that doesn't work out, as well."

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