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Divorce risk not equal among older adults

Older adults in San Jose might be more likely to get a divorce than in past years, but not all marriages are equally vulnerable to coming to a premature end. “Gray divorce” is the term sometimes used to describe divorces among people over 50, and one statistic reports that 34 percent of these divorces occur in marriages that have lasted for more than 30 years. However, the likelihood of a divorce when people are older than 50 does not appears to be correlated to issues such as health, retirement or children leaving home.

Divorce in this age group is still half what it is for younger couples. One important factor in predicting the stability of a marriage for people over 50 is whether or not the marriage is a first or later one. First marriages are less likely to end in divorce. Another predictor is the financial status of the couple. Couples who had more than $250,000 in assets had a 38 percent less chance of getting a divorce than couples who had assets of up to $50,000.

One risk for older adults who divorce is poverty. Older couples who live together, whether married or not, have a poverty rate around 4 percent. The poverty rate for men who divorce after age 50 is 11 percent and for women it is 27 percent.

At any age, it is important for people who are divorcing to take steps to ensure their financial security. For older adults, this could mean making sure that the retirement account is divided fairly since neither will have as much time to rebuild the account. California is a community property state, and this means that assets acquired since marriage are considered to be the property of both, but how this works out in practice may vary.