Divorce for 50+ on the rise. Initiated more by women.

While US divorce is declining overall, the divorce rate among those 50-plus has doubled over the past two decades.

Here are some interesting facts from this article from WSJ online.divorce-jump

  • In 1990, 1 in 10 of all divorces were by people ages 50+. In 2009, 1 in 4 of all divorces were by people ages 50+.
  • More than 600,000 people ages 50 and older got divorced in 2009 in the USA.
  • Among divorces by people ages 40-69, women reported seeking the split 66% of the time.
  • 27% of divorcés cited infidelity as one of their top three reasons for seeking a divorce — in line with estimates of infidelity as a factor in divorce in the general population.
  • 53% of the people over 50 now getting divorced have done so at least once before.
  • Having been married previously doubles the risk of divorce for those ages 50 to 64. For those ages 65 and up, the risk factor quadruples.
  • The vast majority of divorcés ages 40-79 (80%) consider themselves, on a scale from 1 to 10, to be on the top half of life’s ladder. A majority of 56% even consider themselves to be on the uppermost rung (8-10).
  • “Being alone” was the top fear among both men and women, and those who had remarried reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction.
  • The number of dating-site users 50 or older has grown twice as rapidly as any other age group.


The trend defies any simple explanation, but it springs at least in part from boomers’ status as the first generation to enter into marriage with goals largely focused on self-fulfillment. As they look around their empty nests and toward decades more of healthy life, they are increasingly deciding that they’ve done their parental duty and now want out. These decisions are changing not just the portrait of aging people in the U.S., as boomers swell the ranks of the elderly, but also the meaning of the traditional vow to stay together until “death do us part.”