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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

“Gray Divorce:” New Phenomenon, New Issues

According to some family law experts, the “Greatest Generation” has been replaced by the “greatest divorcing generation” as baby boomers are contributing mightily to the country’s divorce rate.

Commonplace divorce concerns, such as child support, custody and visitation, do not figure so prominently into many boomer divorces. Many couples in the “gray divorce” phenomenon are past the child-rearing stage, have accumulated property and wealth, and have simply grown apart. Divorce settlements for them are increasingly about settling financial affairs, equitable property division and, fundamentally, moving on to find a deeper meaning and purpose in life.

Many researchers say that the boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – are catalysts in a seismic cultural shift. “Baby boomers come from a very independent, ‘make my own way in the world’ point of view,” says psychologist Becky Shook. Unlike many couples from earlier generations, she says, they don’t have to remain together to survive.

And, increasingly, they aren’t staying together. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that a quarter of all divorces that occurred in 2008 featured couples that had been married for at least 20 years, and that over half of the nation’s divorces were among boomers.

And it does seem to be all about the transition, with boomers’ kids mostly grown and out of the picture. Divorced boomers frequently talk about potential, growth, learning and new experiences. They talk about evolving in different directions, and can readily cite to examples such as the recent split of Al and Tipper Gore, who were married for 40 years.

“Gray couples” contemplating divorce and having questions regarding investments, property division and other matters can discuss their concerns with an experienced family law attorney.

Related Resource: “Baby boomers lead new wave of ‘gray divorce'” August 15, 2010