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Divorce rates among older couples are increasing

Divorce rates among older adults are increasing in Pennsylvania and across the country. In 2014, married people over age 50 were twice as likely to file for divorced compared to married couples of the same age in 1990. The increase was even higher for persons over age 65. Divorce rates have remained the same or even dropped for other age groups.

One explanation for the rise in divorce among older adults is that many are in their second marriages, which have much higher failure rates than first marriages. Older couples often face greater challenges compared to younger couples, such as blending families and greater financial difficulties.

Another explanation is that life expectancy is increasing. An older adult in an unhappy marital situation faces more years of unhappiness than he or she faced decades ago, which may prompt some people to consider divorce. Most older adults also have adult children, so they do not need to stay together anymore for the sake of their kids.

The stigma surrounding divorce is also not the same as it once was. Statistics show that more women are initiating divorce--in couples over age 40, women initiated the divorce about 60 percent of the time. While there might be financial risk for women who get divorced at an older age as well as concerns about not finding love again, more older women are finding that the risk is worth taking.

Many older adults who get divorced have acquired substantial marital property. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, and thus property obtained during the marriage will be divided by a court according to principles of fairness, unless the couple can otherwise agree. A person of any age who is contemplating a divorce may want to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in negotiating a property settlement agreement that can then be submitted to the court for its approval.

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