Age 50+ divorcing at a record rate

Divorce rates are higher for baby boomers than for any previous generation, while rates are declining, slightly, for society as a whole.

New research and census data reveal an unprecedented trend of Americans splitting apart as they turn grayer: In 2009, people ages 50 and older were twice as likely to divorce as their counterparts in 1990.

Researchers have just begun to explore why. They know that, for many boomer couples, the kids are out of the house and it’s time to face reality. Often, one spouse has fallen for someone else at work.

Professional women, a boomer hallmark, are better able to get by on their own. And longer life spans probably figure into the phenomenon, experts say. People in their 50s or early 60s may expect to have a few more healthy decades left, so why spend them unhappy?

“We haven’t put much focus on divorce among older adults. The thought was, well, they don’t get divorced — their transition is into widowhood,” said Susan L. Brown, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University and co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, which released a study on the “Gray Divorce Revolution” last month.

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