More Couples Over 50 Choose Cohabiting Over Marriage

As the incidence of grey divorce steadily rises along with a growing population of baby boomers reaching retirement age, so does the number of partners over 50 living together in un-wedded bliss.  In fact the number of couples living together at 50-plus has increased by 75 per cent since 2007, according to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).

And with a 67 per cent chance of divorce following a second marriage, it’s not surprising that couples are hesitant about taking the plunge but are happy with cohabitation.  Shacking up doesn’t hold the same sense of taboo it once did and many older adults who have already raised a family find marriage less necessary in the big picture.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of cohabiting couples has increased from 230,000 in 1995 to 18 million in 2016.   This includes both gay and heterosexual partners but mostly the latter and nearly 1 in 4 was over the age of 50.   For baby boomers who came of age during the sexual revolution, getting married after raising their children and perhaps going through one divorce, isn’t a priority.  Companionship without the complications of marriage is simpler for many partners.

Living together allows couples to reduce their living expenses significantly, even without some of the benefits married people enjoy.  Choosing not to re-marry after a divorce can also simplify things with adult children and the question of inheritance.  And according to University of Chicago sociology professor Linda Waite, women over 50 are reluctant to take on the role of wife and caregiver to a man a second time around.

It is wise though for couples living together to work out some kind of informal or cohabitation agreement to lay out who will get what in the event of a break up and each partner should have a power of attorney agreement for the other to make decisions regarding property, finances and medical decisions.

To read more about the tricky parts of a second marriage, visit the AARP’s Saving and Investing Bulletin here.