The attorneys and staff at Wessel, Lehker, & Fumelle add our voices to the joyful choir welcoming the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that the right to marry is a fundamental constitutional right which cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation. Progress!
Although divorce rates have declined across the nation, divorce is becoming increasingly common for Americans age 50 and over. In fact, the divorce rate for the age group has reached an all-time high. In 1990, about 10 percent of individuals divorcing were over the age of 50. By 2009, that number was approximately 25 percent and more than 600,000 people in the United States over 50 chose to end their marriage. By 2030, more than 800,000 people over the age of 50 are expected to divorce each year.
A survey conducted by the AARP in 2004 reportedly found that women between the ages of 40 and 69 were more likely to initiate a divorce than men. Men initiated a split in only 34 percent of divorce cases within the age group. Additionally, infidelity played a factor in only about one fourth of divorces for older Americans. 53 percent of the time, it was not the first divorce for at least one of the spouses. In fact, Americans aged 50 to 64 who are previously divorced are reportedly twice as likely to become divorced again. For those over 65, the likelihood quadruples.
Experts believe many members of the so-called baby boomer generation are seeking additional fulfillment as they reach the empty nest stage of life. They are purportedly looking ahead and seeking to make the most of their remaining healthy years. Divorcing during a recession can be complicated, however. A spouse who is awarded an underwater home may be burdened with additional debt.
Despite the rising baby boomer divorce rate, the AARP survey found that being alone was the top fear among both women and men between the ages of 40 and 79. Perhaps as a result of the divorce trend, dating websites geared to the 50 and up crowd are becoming increasingly common. In 2011, the number of dating website users over the age of 50 reportedly grew twice as fast as any other age group.
Wisconsin Senator Glenn Grothman has sponsored a bill in the state legislature that would make single parenthood a recognized contributing factor to child abuse and neglect. Senate Bill 507 would require the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to teach that children are less likely to be abused or neglected in a so-called traditional household consisting of both of a child’s parents. The bill was co-sponsored by State Representative Donald Pridemore.
Critics of Senate Bill 507 believe its wording will create a slippery slope for single parents in the state. Senator Lena Taylor, a single parent herself, has expressed outrage over the bill. She believes Senate Bill 507 is blatantly hostile towards women. According to Nicole Angresano of the Milwaukee United Way, the language is non-inclusive and unnecessarily divisive. Angresano believes Grothman has unfairly placed all single parents into the same category.
According to Grothman, the intent of the proposed law is being misunderstood by the public. He said the bill is aimed at promoting public awareness regarding child abuse and neglect. Grothman stated he is not trying to make state law call single parents child abusers. Grothman claims children are 20 times more likely to experience abuse in households where they are not raised by both natural parents. He believes the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board should be teaching that a traditional family is a superior way of raising children.
In 2009, more than one-fourth of children under 21 in the United States lived with a single parent. Single mothers also reportedly outnumbered single fathers by a ratio of 5 to 1. In Wisconsin, approximately one-third of all parents are single. Senate Bill 507 would not establish criminal or civil penalties for single parents, but would affect what the state-funded the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board teaches. The board currently has an annual budget of $3 million.
Family law is an emotional subject due to its very nature. Every year, many Wisconsin residents find themselves in the midst of an unexpected divorce. The host of emotions associated with the end of a marriage can be understandably overwhelming and the financial damage can oftentimes feel devastating. One of the best ways to deal with divorce is to prepare yourself and your children for the possible emotional roller coaster. If you are contemplating divorce, a qualified family law attorney can help you protect your interests.