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Divorce During Retirement: What Do Floridians Need to Know?

Divorce Rates Climbing Among Older Adults

How often do retirees decide to divorce in Florida? The answer may be surprising, as recent years have seen an increasing trend of older adults deciding to go their separate ways. According to a recent article in the Washington Post,divorce rates among older adults are on the rise, particularly in couples who have reached retirement years.

Since 1990, “the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has doubled,” and when it comes to people over the age of 65, the divorce rate has “more than doubled.” During this same period, the divorce rates among younger couples has actually stabilized or declined, according to a study conducted by researchers at Bowling Green State University.

Divorce during retirement has become known as “gray divorce,” and about 55 percent of them occur in couples who have been married for 20 years or more. What does this mean? Researchers used to believe that divorce rates in older adults were the result of second marriages, which often don’t last as long as first marriages. However, it turns out that a majority of Americans aged 50 and older who have decided to divorce are still in their first marriages. According to researcher Susan L. Brown, this statistic was “flabbergasting.”

What’s causing older adults to get divorced? Unlike younger people who make the decision to dissolve a marriage, people in or nearing retirement age typically aren’t in relationships “marked by severe discord.” Instead, many of those couples decide to call it quits because they “had simply grown apart.”

And in Florida, the relatively relaxed laws surrounding residency requirements for divorce can make it easier to uncouple. Specifically, Florida Statute Section 61.021 requires that retirees in South Florida (and people of any age living in the state) only reside in Florida for 6 months before being eligible to file for divorce.

Social Changes Make ‘Gray Divorce’ Possible

What has changed since 1990? According to Brown, our society has experienced shifts in financial independence and ideas about the roles women play. To be sure, she and her fellow researchers suggest that the following represent some reasons why older adults are now turning to divorce:

· Women have achieved more autonomy and financial independence: while women in prior decades primarily relied on their husbands for financial support, more women are working and support themselves.

· Lifespans have increased: after children move out of the house and couples retire to places like South Florida, they realize that they still have another 20 years left to enjoy their lives. If they’re not happy in their relationships, it makes more sense to think about divorce.

· Dating websites for older singles: even social media has enlivened the possibilities for dating among older divorcees. Researchers have noted a “boom in older American online dating sites for singles.”

While “gray divorce” can bring independence and freedom to those who have felt trapped in unhappy marriages, divorcing during retirement can have serious drawbacks. Specifically, finances can become quite strained. Unless you’re in good health and have a financial cushion, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the savings you amassed during your lifetime will now be split.

Do you have questions about divorce in South Florida? It’s important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

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