Divorce After 50: 6 Reasons for Late-Life Divorce

The Pew Research Center reports that the divorce rate today for couples over 50 years of age has doubled relative to 1990. Additionally, the divorce rate for couples 65 years old or older tripled between 1990 and 2015.

Several situations in life can bring about late-life divorce. Below are several reasons fueling divorces like these.

1.  Empty Nest

Couples beyond 50 years of age will most likely have given birth to their last child, and soon their children will no longer be living with them, if they haven’t already moved out. This situation is one of the major causes of late-life divorce. Many older couples may come to understand that their marriage had been centered on the presence of children. And once the last child moves out, these same couples may realize the extent to which they have stayed together based on parenthood rather than on relationship.

2.  Age and Age-Induced Illness

Aging can affect our well-being. Some aspects of our bodies that had worked effectively may now seem slower and less efficient. We may have difficulty with stairs or performing what used to be simple chores. Some spouses may feel unprepared and unable to cope with such changes in themselves or in their spouse, causing the demise of the relationship.

3.  Changing Needs

Most people marry because they feel their spouse is the best choice, matching their relationship ideals. However, as we age, we grow, and what we may have once found suitable or desirable may change. If couples cannot bridge these changing perceptions together, their union may end.

4.  Retirement

After many years of work, raising children, and being financially responsible for the family, couples may find more free time in retirement that they are not used to having. Those couples might have drifted apart over the years, but in the busy-ness of their lives, they were unconscious about that drift—until they retired and spent more time together. If these newfound differences are irreconcilable, divorce can be the result.

5.   Spending Habits

Spending recklessly in our later years can become a serious issue due to fixed incomes or insufficient savings for retirement. Sometimes, the difference in the way each half of a couple spends can become more apparent—and more irreconcilable.

6.  Lifestyle Differences

While one partner may prefer spending their retirement playing golf, traveling, and dancing, the other might prefer to spend their days at home relaxing. These contrasting lifestyle preferences can mean a lack of shared time and drive a wedge into both retirement and marriage.


On the bright side, late-life divorce may increase the happiness levels of individuals. As we age, we are more likely to choose a life embodying our preferred lifestyles. As such, we can pursue the choices we may have wanted to make for years but felt held back from.

On the other hand, divorce in the second half of our life may lead to financial insecurity. To help yourself through a late-life divorce and make sure you’re prepared for the future, you may want to work with a financial planner. The right advisor can walk you through what to expect in your new life and help you create a plan that is realistic for your needs.