MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time in the U.S., more people are married than single.
However, more and more Americans over 50 are calling it quits after decades of marriage. CBS4’s Rhiannon Ally took a look at what’s behind this silver divorce trend and the challenges baby boomers face starting over.
For 52-year old Jorge Rodriguez it’s all pretty new. He’s got a new dog, a new house and a new lease on life.
“This is the beginning of a new life,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said his divorce was unexpected to say the least. After 22 years of marriage, and two daughters, he and his wife decided to split.
“I thought to myself I was never going to get divorced. I was very devoted to my family,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said while he and his wife were raising their family, they lost sight of each other. He wasn’t alone.
According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate for baby boomers, people over 50 years old, has doubled in the last two decades.
Professor Zanita Fenton at the University of Miami School of Law says baby boomers are non-conformists in many ways, but also hold traditional values in others. She says many issues get ignored while boomers raise their kids. But once the kids get older and leave the house, the problems are exposed and the yearning for a new life is born.
“Once they leave the nest, they get to fly. I did my job, now I can dance. I get to have some fun, be with someone who makes me happy,” said Fenton.
After two decades of marriage, Deborah Lazaga wasn’t happy. She filed for divorced once her two daughters were out of high school. Lazaga said she realized something about her marriage.
“You lose touch with your partner and don’t make as much of an effort to maintain a relationship with your partner and you go into parenting and start saving for 401k. The person next to you can grow together or grow apart,” said Lazaga.
A new life means new challenges and often new problems along the way.
Carlos Blanco was married 24 years before he divorced.
“It’s like you get on this roller coaster they press a button and all of a sudden the ride is going,” Blanco.
Like many people, Blanco strapped in for the ride of his new life, not anticipating the twists and turns that lay ahead. He wanted to help other people in similar situations, so he started a company “Matters of Divorce” to help people like Rodriguez and Lazaga navigate the messy and often nasty journey.
“The biggest mistake I hear is people call and say I want the biggest, baddest divorce attorney because I’m going to get her or get him,” said Blanco.
Blanco said people who are considering a divorce should be prepared. There are steps he recommends to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
“This is the biggest negotiation of your life. especially as you look at these long-term marriages come to an end,” said Blanco.
First, know your options.
Blanco said you don’t necessarily need to call an attorney immediately. There are other options.
Many people can come to terms through a mediation, or agreeing to terms, and then having an attorney draw up paperwork. This can save both sides time and money.
Blanco said it’s a good idea to keep check your emotions at the door and think about what’s best for everyone involved, including your ex.
“Take a step back. Think about what’s best for me, my ex-spouse and the kids together as a family. It’s a different type of family than it was before,” said Blanco.
That’s the realization Lazaga came too. “Love your children more than you hate your spouse” is the advice she has for other people going through it.
And according to a poll of American divorce lawyers, nearly a quarter of the baby boomer break-ups are initiated by women.
Professor Fenton attributes that, in part, to boomers being the first generation of highly educated women who are more financially independent than in the past.