Living Apart Together as a “Family Form” Among Persons of Retirement Age: The Appropriate Family Law Response

Cynthia Grant Bowman


As the Baby Boom generation enters retirement age, patterns of living among older persons are beginning to change.1 Unlike their predecessors, the Baby Boomers lived through the sexual revolution, divorced more easily and more often, and institutionalized new patterns of coupling, such as cohabitation. As a result, the rate of marriage has declined and the percent of the population classified as “single” has gone up.2 This age cohort has now moved into the sixty-five-plus group and makes up those we think of as the retirement generation, or the “Third Age” group.3 As longevity has increased and the divorce rate for this age group risen,4 growing numbers of older persons are unmarried and for longer periods. Yet they appear to have a continued desire for intimate relationships, along with an interest in more flexible forms of living. One lifestyle that many sociologists and gerontologists have noted as being particularly suited to those in this stage of life has been termed “living apart together,” or LAT.5

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