In 2007, nearly one-quarter of all divorces involved couples who had been married 20 years or more, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those divorcing these days, baby boomers are taking the lead. These "gray" divorces occur for a number of reasons, and tend to be less antagonistic than when younger people divorce.
Many couples struggle with finding the right balance between home and work. In the past, men were expected to provide for the family while women were expected to raise the kids. With the economy still struggling to rebound, many women are working full-time in addition to completing the majority of the household tasks. These women are less dependent upon their husbands for financial support, which removes one of the major obstacles.
Divorce is also much more socially acceptable than it was in past generations. The stigma of divorce no longer exists as it did years ago. Divorce is common, and older couples can divorce without suffering the shame and embarrassment of previous eras.
Finally, many of these older couples find that while they still get along, their relationships have simply fizzled out. Whatever reasons compelled them to marry 20 years before may no longer exist or be sufficient to warrant staying together, and with divorce commonplace, there is no reason today to settle for a situation that does not satisfy both partners.
The challenges faced by divorcing baby boomers are different than the issues faced by younger people. While younger couples may litigate who gets custody, visitation schedules, and child support, baby boomers will need to play close attention to concerns regarding property division.
Also because of the advanced ages of the parties involved, finances may be particularly tricky, figuring out such things as the equitable split of assets, retirement benefits, stocks and bonds, or other investments. While younger divorcees may work several jobs in their future, baby boomers may be retired or contemplating retirement, and thus finances can become an area of contention.