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Possible factors emerge explaining high rates of "gray divorce"

Tampa residents probably know that divorce can happen to any couple, at any time. As recent studies suggest, even older couples are rapidly turning to divorce. In the past 20 years, "gray divorces," which includes couples age 50 and older, have doubled, and the numbers show no signs of slowing. Noting a significant increase in gray divorce statistics, psychotherapists, sociologists and psychologists alike are attempting to decode the reasons and possible contributing factors as to why numbers are so high.

One possible theory is based upon the mentality of different generations. In particular, the "Baby Boomer" generation is charged with being more dedicated to personal happiness and therefore less likely to stay in an unhappy relationship, regardless of age. Prior to the Boomer generation, other generations were more likely to marry for financial reasons or to fulfill a role.

Perhaps surprisingly, two-thirds of the time females are initiating the end of the relationship. Psychologists believe this may be a result of the times we live in, where most women are in the workforce, and can financially support themselves. Additionally, some attribute the ease of online communication as a possible factor in the increase in gray divorces.

Legally speaking, Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that rather than evenly dividing the assets, a judge will typically make a ruling based upon what is fair. For gray couples, older age generally equates to a greater amount of assets to divide, including marital property, real estate, retirement plans, pensions and 401(k)s. Depending on the ability of the couple to compromise and divide properly themselves, a divorce can move rather quickly. However, if the divorce is not amicable, the divorce could take longer due to the complexities of asset division.

While recent statistics are rather surprising, they illustrate that divorce can affect any couple - regardless of age.

Source: CBS, "'Gray divorces' increasing sharply," Oct. 13, 2012

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