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Gray divorce and the implications for Massachusetts baby boomers

Recently, reports have surfaced discussing the implications for baby boomers regarding the growing trend of middle age divorce. The so-called Gray Divorce trend has been a hot topic for many in Massachusetts and across the country. The impact of the baby boomer generation on all manner of cultural, societal, political and demographic trends in the U.S. has long been studied and discussed. Many commentators say that this mid-life divorce trend is just one more way that baby boomers have and will continue to influence life and public policy.

Experts have studied the trends in marriage and divorce rates for Americans over the age of 50 through Census Bureau data. Reports indicate that from 1990 to 2010 the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled, rising from fewer than five divorces per 1,000 married persons to around 10 divorces per 1,000 married persons. It should be noted that factors such as race, ethnic background and education significantly impact these statistics.

It is important that we study and understand these types of trends for many reasons. From a health and wellness perspective, we know that the emotional stress brought on by a marital dissolution can be a challenge for the parties involved. According to the limited studies that have been done to this point, this is especially true for those who endure a separation in middle adulthood. In addition, these so-called gray divorces can significantly impact the lives of any children involved, even if those children are adults themselves.

To date, we know very little about long term impact of gray divorce, as many researchers have focused their studies on the separations of younger individuals. If the trend of middle adulthood divorce continues to grow, we will certainly learn more. It is equally important to understand how the rise in these types of divorces will impact Massachusetts and the country at large from a public policy perspective. Regardless of the age of the couple, it will continue to be prudent for Massachusetts residents to remain informed of their rights and responsibilities with regard to marriage dissolution under relevant state law.

Source: Huffington Post, "Are Baby Boomers Still Pushing Up the Divorce Rate?" Robert Hughes, Jr., Nov. 2, 2012

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