Who says the boomers are a wild and crazy bunch? Time was when our elders tsk-tsked at the baby boomers and their carryings-on, wondering if they would ever straighten up, tie the knot and settle down.
Well, they're done both ... numerous times. A new study finds that boomers are setting new records for divorce. The rate of divorce among the over-50 crowd has doubled in the past 20 years, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.
It's not just that more boomers are getting divorced. Rather, boomers are getting divorced over and over again. Many are now on their third or fourth marriage and already thinking about moving on to the next one, the divorce information site Splitstown reports.
The Bowling Green researchers say more than 300,000 couples over 50 divorced in 2008, and at the current rate that number is likely to jump to more than 400,000 in 2030.
There are all kinds of theories -- short attention span, too much TV in childhood, empty-nest syndrome -- but whatever the reason behind all this marrying and unmarrying, it's a financial disaster in the making for the couples and, for that matter, the national economy.
At a time when Congress and everyone else is trying to figure out how to lower the country's deficits, boomers are furiously divorcing each other, in most cases further depleting their already threadbare retirement accounts.
Just the act of divorcing is expensive. You have to hire a lawyer, sell the house, split up the personal belongings and divide the savings and investments.
With many middle-income families having virtually no net worth, a divorce or two can easily put boomers underwater financially, leaving them with no cushion for the 20 to 30 years they can expect to spend in retirement.
As Splitstown put it: Couples used to say they stayed together “for the children.” Now, they might be well-advised to stay together “for the retirement portfolio” but that doesn’t have the same ring, apparently. There are worse things than being in a somewhat dull marriage, however. Being penniless, old and alone is one of them.