While many locals may think that divorce rates are being driven up by younger people, the fact is that it is actually Baby Boomers driving up divorce rates, in so called, gray divorces. Nationally, the gray divorce rate has doubled, taking over the majority of divorces in the U.S. About 25% of people getting divorced are 50 or older. This is in stark contrast from 1990, when it was only one in 10. In fact, a neighboring city to Atlanta, Columbus, is ranked 11 in the US in gray divorces.
SmartAsset used U.S. Census Bureau data to rank the top 25 U.S. cities in grey divorces. The Census Bureau maintains marital status data in 133 of the largest U.S. cities. The data is not a point in time count, but it does give a snapshot of the numbers, which was last collected in 2018.
Denver, Colorado, took the top spot. Of their residents 65 and older, 28% were divorced. Columbus, Georgia, ranked 11 in the US in gray divorces at 23.3%. This actually tied the 10 ranked, Birmingham, Alabama, and just behind Portland, Oregon, at 23.4%.
What’s behind the numbers?
For Baby Boomers, when they entered their marriages in the 1950s, gender roles were rigidly defined, and husbands just needed to be good providers and wives only needed to be good wives and mothers. Now though, couples seek fulfillment within their marriage.
In other words, Baby Boomers are now looking at what their marriage provides them, not what they are providing to their marriage. They want their spouse to be more than simply a mate. They want a best friend, sidekick, sounding board, etc. When one or both spouses in a couple find their expectations are not being met, they may start looking into a divorce.
These gray divorces though, while starting because one does not see their soul mate anymore, they do have financial consequences. Gray divorcees have a 19% poverty rate, compared to 1% to 3% for married seniors and 13% for widowed seniors.
Those numbers show that protecting one’s financial resources in a divorce is extremely important. With a financial/legal professional though, gray divorcees can protect themselves.