Why are More Older Couples Getting Divorced?

June 14, 2021
Older Couples

When Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage, many people were shocked. Perhaps the only people who were not shocked were divorce lawyers and marriage counselors.

Divorce among people over 50 years old has doubled since 1990, according to scholars. For most other age groups, the divorce rate has been trickling downward each year. A new term has even been spawned from the trend: gray divorce. Although reasons for divorce are always personal, there are a few common trends among older divorced couples. Some common reasons for gray divorces are listed below.

No Children

Many couples wait until the children are grown and off on their own before divorcing. Older couples may decide that it is simply time to go their separate ways since the children are no longer at home.


Younger people may be afraid to divorce because of the stigma attached or the worry about making it on their own. Older people are often past the point of worrying about what others think and have the confidence to know they can survive without the other spouse. Many may have stayed in unhappy marriages, but they are now brave enough to leave.

Financial Stability

Older couples are often more financially stable than their younger selves. As a result, whether still working or retired, divorce is often more economically feasible for older people.

Divorce Acceptance

Society, in general, has accepted divorce more than in the past. A divorcing older couple may even be embraced for their willingness to start over later in life.

Additionally, a divorcing couple may believe they owe it to themselves to live their lives the way they want. With life expectancies higher than ever, starting a new life at an older age is not uncommon.

Different Goals and Values

Many couples get wrapped up in childrearing, work, keeping a home, and other tasks. They may wake up one day and realize that they and their spouse no longer share the same values or have the same interests. They may look at their futures very differently.


Infidelity can happen at any age, and it is one of the top reasons for divorce among all age groups. Older couples are not immune to fidelity. One or both spouses may have fallen out of love and want to find it elsewhere. Online dating sites have made infidelity easier as well.

What Should an Older Couple Consider Before Divorcing?

Like any divorcing couple, the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage need to be analyzed. Are there issues the couple can overcome with counseling or other methods? In many cases, issues have been building for years or are so egregious that saving the marriage is impossible. In those cases, divorcing couples, even older spouses, rarely regret ending the marriage.

Couples should discuss divorce calmly and openly with each other. While they do not have to agree on everything, they should be civil and willing to compromise if needed. When there is an amicable relationship from the start, a spouse’s lawyer can have productive communications to help the divorce progress more quickly. With less animosity comes less stress, which is better for everyone involved.

Chester County Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Divorcing Couples of Any Age

Many older couples are now getting divorced. If you are considering separating from your spouse, the Chester County divorce lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. can help you with the gray divorce process. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.