During many baby boomers’ childhoods, divorce was something that rarely happened. When couples married, they did so with the expectation that the husband would work and earn money, and the wife would take care of the home and children. Even if the couple was willing to risk the social stigma that came with divorce, it would be difficult to imagine how each spouse could survive without the other. So couples remained married, for better or for worse.

Fortunately, that is not the case today. Divorce no longer carries the negative stigma that it once did, and, in many marriages, both spouses work and are (or can be) financially independent. This has led to an increase in the divorce rate in one interesting demographic: baby boomers.

The baby boomer generation is defined as men and women who were born between 1946 and 1964, and who are now between 50 and 68 years old. According to recent research, one out of every four divorce filings made in 2009 involved a person over the age of 50. In fact, the number of divorced people in the baby boomer age group has doubled over the last 20 years.

So what is behind this rise in so-called “gray divorce?” Researchers believe that the increased focus on individual success rather than solely on the marital unit plays a significant factor. Both husband and wife are now better equipped to support themselves, financially and otherwise, and this has given them the freedom to leave an unhappy marriage in their later years.

One unique challenge of “gray divorce” is property division. By the time they reach 50, many spouses will have significant savings in their 401ks, pensions and other retirement funds. The family home may be fully paid for. Medical bills may be mounting. A New York family law attorney can help to ensure that these and the myriad of other important circumstances surrounding finances at retirement age are appropriately factored in to your property division.

Source: Inquisitr, “Old Age Divorce Records Have Baby Boomers Reworking Their Dating Game,” George Neilsen, May 15, 2014