‘Til Age 50 Do Us Part: Divorce Commonplace Among Baby Boomers

By Nancy Fagan,

The Divorce Help Clinic, LLC

These days, marriage is more of a long-term lease than a forever sentiment. That’s because according to the latest reports on divorce statistics, more Americans age 50 and up are divorced than widowed – and that’s the first time since 1990.

Arecent article

published at

The New York Times

tells us that divorce rates among those 50 and older has grown in the last fifty years from 2.8 percent to 15.4 percent.

Divorce trend? Maybe. But most likely, divorcees are realizing that being single at an older age isn’t so bad. That’s not to say divorce isn’t difficult. It is – but with reduced stigma and working women, divorce is becoming a feasible option when counseling doesn’t work.

As much as the stigma has been reduced, though, rising divorce rates among the older American population is not without risk. Researchers at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio say that just like widowers, divorcees will generally face economic strain and poor health. Children, although fully grown, may still experience anxiety as a result of the divorce, mainly when it comes to parental finances.

“It’s still true that in general the longer you are married, the lower your chance of divorce, but it’s sure no guarantee anymore,” said Stephanie Coontz, a family history professor at Evergreen State College in Washington State, in a statement at the

New York Times.

“I don’t necessarily think this will accelerate, but I don’t expect it to go down,” she said. “Staying together until death do us part is a bigger challenge than it used to be because we expect so much more of marriage than we did in the past, and we have so many more options when a marriage doesn’t live up to those expectations.

“The extension of the active, healthy life span is a big part of this,” Professor Coontz said. “If you are a healthy 65, you can expect another pretty healthy 20 years. So with the kids gone, it seems more burdensome to stay in a bad relationship, or even one that has grown stale.”

As I’ve covered in my previous columns, women are most likely to initiate divorce, and according to the study, women are still the ones to end a relationship in older age if necessary. Women across the board, no matter what age, are less tolerant of bad or even mediocre relationships.

As to what women want? “We expect to find equality, intimacy, friendship, fun, and even passion right into what people used to see as the ‘twilight years,’ ” Professor Coontz added.


Divorce mediation certainly won’t fix a marriage, but it


fix the situation when it comes to moving on solo. If you’re like countless Americans over the age of 50 contemplating divorce, mediation makes the process bearable – and affordable compared to “lawyering up.” In fact, with our help, we can make sure that both parties leave the relationship fairly. Retirement, finances and equal division of property are just some of the aspects we maintain throughout the process of mediation.

In my

previous month’s column


“The Silver Divorce: 4 Mistakes That Can Affect Retirement,”

I talk about how older Americans can avoid common pitfalls when it comes to divorcing. Read it to make sure you understand some of the implications of divorcing in older age.

Our drop-in clinics are free, so join us this coming Wednesday, October 2 from 11:30 to 1pm to find out how mediation can help you move on with your life without the common drama associated with divorce.

Our drop-in divorce information clinics are held every Wednesday. For more information about divorce mediation in La Jolla, log onto


Nancy Fagan is the owner of The Divorce Help Clinic LLC (Divorce Mediation Planning Services), best-selling author and divorce expert. If you have questions about San Diego divorce or mediation, make sure to stop by any Wednesday for the Divorce Information Drop-in Clinic, 11:30-1 pm (Free). This is NOT a class. Drop by anytime for a private 15 minute meeting,