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Why are divorce rates dropping for younger couples and rising for older couples?

You may have heard this on the news, but American divorce rates have been steadily falling for a while now. Overall, the U.S. divorce rate dropped 29% between 1979 and 2017, to a record 40-year low.

If you’re over 55 years of age, however, you may not believe it. It’s hard to reconcile the idea that divorce rates are dropping when it seems like you know plenty of couples in your age range who are ending their marriages. Among U.S. couples 55 years of age and older, the divorce rate has actually tripled.

What’s driving the different trends?

There are a complex set of factors that seem to be driving the two different trends.

Younger couples are marrying with less frequency in the first place, and the decreased number of overall marriages helps drive down the number of divorces. More importantly, younger generations are marrying later — after they’ve become both emotionally and financially secure in their own identities. Call them “picky,” if you like, but the hesitation to head to the altar helps prevent bad matches or marriages between people who simply outgrow each other.

Older couples, on the other hand, most likely married while young — and many of them find that they have little in common with each other once their children are grown. Plus, people are living longer, and that often leads older people to think more about the years they have left. For the unhappily wed, that may be enough to spur a divorce.

Finally, the overall changing social attitudes about marriage and divorce may also be prompting more “gray” divorces. The younger generations’ acceptance of the idea that marriage isn’t for everybody and that life is too short to remain with someone who makes you unhappy may be rubbing off on the older generations.

If you’re ready for a divorce, what should you do?

No matter what your age, a positive outcome for your divorce starts with good planning. Speak to a divorce attorney today to learn more about your situation and your options.

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