A study in the United States shows that couples over the age of 50 are getting divorced at a higher rate than in previous decades. Across the country, including in California, the rate of ‘gray divorces” has doubled from 1990 to 2010, even though the overall divorce rate has decreased among all couples.

According to therapists, one of the main reasons they see marriages dissolve at a later stage in life is emotional detachment among the spouses. Couples can easily grow apart over time, and this distance can be particularly challenging to live with once individuals retire and have more time to spend with each other. Couples may also realize that, now that humans have a longer life expectancy, they will have to spend more years in retirement with their spouses, a prospect that is off-putting to those in subpar relationships. Additionally, couples may become more aware of an emotional divide once their children grow up and leave the home, giving them more time to spend with each other.

Another reason for the rise of gray divorces could be the growing sense of independence that women are experiencing in modern times. While women of older generations may have been hesitant to leave their husbands because of money or social stigma, these factors are less important now that divorce is more common and women are becoming a larger percentage of the workforce.

Since California is a community property state, all assets acquired by a couple during a marriage (by either spouse) are divided equally. Couples over the age of 50 are likely to have more assets, meaning there are more things to account for in the divorce. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney might help spouses better navigate the sometimes overwhelming divorce process.