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One way to avoid ‘gray divorce’? Don’t get married at all

Much has been made in the last several years about the phenomenon of “gray divorce.” It is true that the divorce rate among people age 50 and older has noticeably increased. Many of these divorces stem from a second or third marriage after an initial one has ended in divorce. With so many divorces, it might seem that not getting married in the first place might help to eliminate many of these divorces.

As a matter of fact, it seems that many older couples are choosing this route. According to Census Bureau data, people ages 50 and older comprise the fastest-growing group of couples who are not married in the country.

People in this situation who are not getting married often do so for financial reasons. In many cases, these folks have benefits still coming to them from a former spouse in the form of alimony and/or Social Security benefits. Getting remarried would put an end to that. People whose former spouses have died might risk losing survivor’s pension benefits if they elected to tie the knot again.

Many older people may have debts that they don’t want their partner to be saddled with. In many cases, these might involve adult children for whom a parent has acted as co-signer for a loan such as a mortgage.

Another consideration is estate planning. Getting a new spouse later in life could complicate inheritance matters. Staying single might simply be the most prudent and least complicated path two older people could take.

Source: CNBC, “Why older couples are living together, skipping marriage,” Sharon Epperson, June 8, 2014