5 Things You Didn’t Know About Gray Divorce

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Gray Divorce

When couples divorce after age 50, it’s called a “gray divorce.” Since this term only recently came into use, there are things you may not know it. While it’s impossible to cover every detail in this article, we will look at five things you didn’t know about gray divorce.

The Gray Divorce Rate Has Increased

Divorce among U.S. adults has actually decreased for younger generations. However, the divorce rate for the 50 and older set has approximately doubled since the 1990s. The divorce rate for people over age 65 has almost tripled during the same time frame.

Longer Life Expectancy Is an Issue

This may be one of the most surprising facts about gray divorce. As some people reach their 50s, they take stock of their lives. If they are in reasonably good health, they may live for several decades. For some, longer life expectancy means more time with a spouse who makes them unhappy. Gray divorce can bring people the freedom they need to discover what will make them happy.

Gray Divorce Is More Common the Second Time Around

In general, people who have been divorced once may be more likely to divorce again. Baby boomers were more likely to divorce than preceding generations. As baby boomers reach age 50 and beyond, their prior marital history may catch up with them, leading to a gray divorce.

Retirement Plans May Be Affected

Whether the parties are retired already or still working, retirement plans often change due to the termination of their marriage. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) may give one spouse part of the other spouse’s retirement funds. Spousal support, if ordered, may cut into the amount of money the payer planned to save for their golden years. One or both parties may enter retirement with less money than they had planned on, including Social Security retirement benefits.

Adult Children May Be Upset

Few gray divorcees have to worry about child support and visitation. However, they still need to understand the effect divorce has on children. Even adult children may feel a sense of loss and a need for reassurance from their parents. Divorce can damage relationships between adults and their parents at any age.

Gray Divorce or Not, You’ll Need Help

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
The Rise of Gray Divorce

The Rise of Gray Divorce

Jack and Susan B. had just celebrated their 32nd anniversary when they hit their children with a bombshell. They planned to divorce as soon as possible. No one really saw it coming. However, after much reflection, they joined the ranks of baby boomers heading for a gray divorce.

Divorce After a Certain Age

The term “gray divorce” typically refers to couples who divorce after age 50. According to Pew Research, the divorce rate for adults age 50+ has just about doubled in the past 25 years. Rates in other age groups have decreased, though. So, what is causing this “divorce revolution” among our older population?

Divorces are all different. Some of the reasons given for gray divorce include:

  • The couple may have grown apart over the span of their marriage. Interests, attitudes, even beliefs change over time. For some couples, these changes present insurmountable obstacles to their continued happiness.
  • Couples with children sometimes stay together until the children are out on their own. They may be unable to recover from empty nest syndrome and feels it’s best to separate.
  • Longer life expectancy may mean more time spent together after retirement. Some couples cannot imagine living without their spouse. Others cannot imagine living with their spouse through retirement.
  • People may have different beliefs about money, debt, and spending. At a certain point, especially looking toward the future, differences of opinion may grow too big to ignore.

While gray divorce is common, it is not without its perils.

Gray Divorcees Face Unique Problems

Most divorced couples experience the stress of reinventing their lives. Everything changes, from finances to living arrangements to relationships. However, people who divorce late in life have a few new wrinkles to deal with.

  • Sometimes the husband has been the breadwinner while the wife cared for home and children. This puts the wife in an awkward position after a divorce. Many older women who lack job skills and experience struggle to enter the workforce. Some may be able to rely on spousal support for years if the marriage lasted more than 10 years.
  • Often one spouse handled every aspect of the family’s finances. The spouse who was not involved in financial matters may face some unpleasant surprises during the course of the divorce. In addition, the non-financially-savvy spouse now has to take on their own financial planning.
  • The fact that gray divorcees are closer to retirement may also cause a few hitches. Spouses who expected to rely on retirement accounts in their golden years may have to adjust their expectations. Even worse, there’s not much time to rebuild before retirement. Older people may have maxed out their salaries and reached the end of their career opportunities, which could make rebuilding those retirement accounts very difficult.

As with any divorce, it’s best to consult with an attorney to make sure you get the best result.

Learn More About Filing for Divorce

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. We plan to add a Beverly Hills office soon.