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The impact of divorce on older adults

| Sep 11, 2018 | Divorce |

Adults in Texas who are 50 and older are twice as likely to divorce as couples of that age were in 1990. Those who are 65 and older are three times more likely to do so. Researchers have made suggestions as to why divorce is on the rise for older adults, but studies show that their speculations were not always correct.

Two major transitions older adults face are adult children leaving home and retirement. Contrary to researchers’ expectations, these transitions did not correlate with a higher divorce rate. There are a few indicators that some marriages may be more vulnerable to divorce than others. Marriages of shorter duration and second marriages are more likely to end in divorce. A man whose parents divorced has a 35 percent higher chance of also getting divorced; for a woman, the likelihood is 60 percent higher. However, studies show that the main reason for divorce among older adults is the same reason younger adults get divorced: They are no longer happy or fulfilled in their relationships.

Unfortunately, some older adults may already be reaching a point where social isolation is a problem, and a divorce may further deplete their social circle. Finances may also be a challenge for women in particular. Divorced women 65 and older have an 80 percent higher chance than men of living in poverty.

It is important that marital property be divided fairly. In Texas, a community property state, even if only one person has worked outside the home, most assets such as retirement accounts are considered shared property. Couples may be able to negotiate an agreement for property division instead of going to court. Mediation may help them resolve conflict and reach an agreement more quickly than litigation. However, if couples try mediation and it is unsuccessful, litigation remains an option.

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