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Is divorce more common for empty-nesters?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Divorce |

Any couple can get divorced, and there are a multitude of reasons why divorce may be initiated. Couples split up because of financial stress, infidelity, drifting apart over time and for many other reasons.

But one interesting phenomenon that has been happening lately is that those who are 50 and older are getting divorced at an increasing rate. By contrast, younger couples have a decreasing divorce rate. One potential reason that has been suggested for this increase in so-called “gray divorce” is that older couples are often empty-nesters.

Why would this make a difference?

A parent is considered to be an empty-nester when their children move out of the house. For many parents, this happens when their children go to college. But the children could also simply get their own apartments, get married, join the military or move out for other reasons.

While this can make home life less stressful and quieter for parents, it also will often make them reevaluate their own relationship. What they sometimes find is that raising their children distracted them from real issues in their own relationship – or it distracted them from the fact that they were slowly drifting apart. They didn’t notice, but becoming empty-nesters makes it very clear, and they have to decide if they want to stay married.

Additionally, some people can take becoming empty-nesters rather hard. They miss the children and the life that they had before, when the home was full of noise and commotion. They even end up missing their routines, like taking the children to school at the same time or helping them around the house. The loss of these obligations, rather than feeling freeing, just feels like loss. This could lead to a difficult emotional situation that takes a toll on the marital relationship that remains.

Moving forward with a divorce

This is just one of the reasons for the rise in gray divorce. Financial situations are often much more complex and even contentious at this age – especially when considering retirement accounts – which is just one reason why older adults who are contemplating divorce can benefit from seeking legal guidance as proactively as possible.