For many years, Americans have been told by both the media and sociologists that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. While this 50 percent figure has come to be accepted by both experts and laypeople alike, there is mounting evidence that the data upon which it is based is simply not trustworthy. Indeed, according to one recent study, the divorce rate in the U.S. may be even higher than many previously believed.

During the 1970s, the Baby Boom generation was responsible for the steady increase in the divorce rate. Most experts believed that the rate peaked in 1980 and has been decreasing ever since. By looking at the numbers across couples of all ages, however, researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Population Center discovered that the story is a bit more complex than that.

Surprisingly, since 1990, the divorce rate among couples between the ages of 60 and 65 has skyrocketed, as has the rate among couples older than 65. Today, the rate of divorce for couples between 60 and 65 is three times higher than it was in 1990. The rate is five times higher for couples older than 65. One reason that many of these relationships are ending is because they are second and third marriages, which are far less stable than first marriages.

The divorce rate among younger couples – specifically, those under the age of 25 – is not as high as people might expect, but that does not mean that younger couples are more stable. Indeed, one of the reasons that the divorce rate is relatively low is because more couples are choosing to cohabit rather than to get married. Experts have found that relationships among cohabiting couples are far less stable than they appear and that the rate of break-ups is quite high. Younger couples who do choose to get married, however, are a bit more likely to stay together because they tend to be better off financially and much more selective about their choice of partner.

The reality is that Americans are currently living in a time of significant marital instability. No matter the causes, an increasing number of couples are choosing to divorce their spouses and start the next chapter of their lives.

If you are thinking about whether to file for divorce for your spouse, speaking to an experienced divorce attorney is an important first step. Schedule a meeting with a divorce attorney to learn more.