"Gray divorce" continues to rise

In North Carolina and across the country, a growing number of Americans are filing for divorce later in life. When people think of a couple deciding to legally separate, they may imagine young people with or without children. However, even as the divorce rate has held steady or declined for most demographics across the country, that rate has increased significantly for older Americans. Since 1990, the divorce rate for people 50 and over has doubled while that same rate has tripled for people 65 and older.

There are a number of factors that could contribute to the growth in later-in-life divorce, dubbed the "gray divorce revolution." In the first place, divorce is much more socially acceptable than it was in the past. In addition, many people have seen divorce operate within their own families. For example, the daughters of divorced parents are 60 percent more likely to end their own marriages while the sons of parents who split are 35 percent more likely to do so themselves.

People in their second or third marriage are 2.5 times more likely to divorce than those who are still part of a first marriage. In addition, people who have been married for a short time are more likely to separate than those who have been together for decades. Retirement age can also be a time of significant, life-changing decisions, from leaving work to adult children leaving the home.

There are some particular financial concerns that can affect people who decide to divorce later in life. For example, while retirement funds are often a couple's largest single asset, they are particularly important for those near or at retirement age. A family law attorney may work with a spouse of any age to protect key assets and negotiate a fair settlement on issues including property division and spousal support.

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