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Baby Boomers Divorce Rate Skyrocketing

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 5PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – More baby boomers are saying they will face their golden years alone.

The number of divorces among couples in their late 40s and 50s is soaring.

52-year-old Debbi Jenkins decided to end her marriage of more than 20 years. “Emotionally, physically, we just couldn’t relate to each other anymore.”

Thadia, who is also in her 50s, made the same decision. “You have to accept things as they are; not as you wish them to be.”

In 1990, only one in ten people getting a divorce was over 50. By 2009 that number was one in four. Dr. Charles Foster of the Chestnut Hill Institute thinks the notion of divorce isn’t unthinkable for this generation.

Foster, who co-authored the book “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay”, also attributes this trend to the fact people are living longer and are more active.

“They are going to have more years, and more healthy years, and they are thinking, ‘Why would I want to spend them being unhappy?’ If you think you are going to drop dead in a couple of years anyway, then maybe you are thinking you are not going to bother getting a divorce.”

In two thirds of these cases, the woman is the one who said it was time to end the marriage.

Dr. Foster added, “Women 50 and over have more money than their mothers did, and not just that they have more money, but they have jobs or careers, the ability to earn more money, and that is trans-formative.”

Many women, like Jodi Mallow, wanted to wait until their kids got a little older. “To put them thru that grief process, high school or middle school years, I just cared too much about my children to do that.”

Dana Levit of Paragon Financial in Newton cautions that divorce can be devastating to a family’s finances, particularly for couples in this bracket who are so close to retirement.

“I think that is one of the most devastating things for people is they have a vision, I am so close, ten years out, and this is what I am going to look like and then suddenly they have much less money or are certainly able to afford much less in retirement than they originally planned, and that can be pretty upsetting to folks.”

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