For many years, the general rate of divorce in Maryland and nationwide was around 50 percent. Just recently, it apparently dropped to closer to 40 percent. But for one age group, those over 50’s, sometimes called the baby boomers, that is not the case. Their marriages are still ending in divorce at about a 50 percent rate.

There are probably a number of reasons for this. One explanation that some have offered is simply the fact that more people are living longer and are healthier longer. If someone is in an unhappy marriage, the prospect of remaining so for several decades yet to come may be daunting and may cause many to decide to make a fresh start in life.

To a certain extent, this runs contrary to traditional expectations, in which people anticipate that marriages are most prone to dissolution in the 7th to 10th years, which is the basis for the term the “7-year itch.” Some cynics suggest that the reason that the divorce rate for younger people is lower than that for seniors is that the younger people have not lived or been married as long and believe that the percentages may even out with time. No one, though, can know for sure.

Older couples whose married lives have revolved around raising children may now be experiencing the “empty nest” phenomena and find that they have less in common and less to talk about now that the children are gone. When older couples get divorced, there may be more in the way of assets to divide, including homes, businesses, investments and retirement plans. The rules concerning Social Security and military retirement pay and benefits may also need to be taken into consideration with respect to qualifying for spousal benefits.

Divorce is never easy and with longer marriages, there is often a greater accumulation of wealth. Property division can be complex, but an experienced family law attorney can help make this process easier while still ensuring your interests are protected.

Source: CNN, “Why are baby boomers so divorce-prone?” Pepper Schwartz, Dec. 09, 2013