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Researchers Try to Understand Risk Factors for Later-in-Life Divorce

It happens often enough these days that it even has shorthand phrase. “Gray divorce” does not have a precise definition, but it typically involves divorce after age 50.

Farmington Hills divorce lawyers are familiar with the particular challenges that marriage dissolution entails for people of this age. Financial challenges in establishing separate households are one factor. So are feelings of rejection and struggles to form a new identity when a long-term marriage ends.

Meanwhile, researchers are trying to better understand the risk factors for divorce later in life. Two of these researchers, Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin, have co-authored a paper called “The Gray Divorce Revolution.” They are sociologists at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

One of Brown and Lin’s findings is that one of the reasons why the divorce rate has risen among older Americans is that so many of them have already been divorced before. The chances of a second or subsequent marriage ending in divorce are much higher than for first marriages – 150 percent higher.

Another risk factor for gray divorce is more recent marriage. The data show that nearly half of people over 50 who got divorced in 2009 had been married for less than 20 years.

Infidelity is also a factor in gray divorce, just as it is for divorce at other ages. AARP conducted a survey in 2003 of over 1,000 people who had gotten divorced between the ages of 40 and 60. More than in 4 of them – 27 percent – said cheating was one of the causes.

Source: “What Are the Risk Factors?” Carl Bialik, Wall Street Journal, 3-3-12