What Is a Gray Divorce?

While gray divorces have existed as long as divorce has, there hasn’t really been a term for it until recently. A gray divorce (also known as grey divorce) is the term for the dissolution of a marriage between two people who are 50 years old or older. When people are still married after 50, it is often assumed that they’ll remain married into their twilight years and that their marriage will not end until one of them passes away. However, that’s far from the case these days.

Why Do Older Couples Divorce?

The divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled since 1990, and it’s expected to triple by 2030, according to Psychology Today. What’s behind this increase in gray divorce? Several factors have contributed to the rise in gray divorces, including:

  • Lifespan – People are living longer than they did in the past. This has resulted in marriages lasting longer as well, which can be a good thing if both spouses remain on the same page. However, a longer lifespan and a longer marriage also gives spouses more time to grow apart and desire different things out of life and their relationship. This can lead to the realization that they’re no longer right for each other, resulting in gray divorce.
  • Happiness and Self-fulfillment – Ideas regarding marriage and life in general have changed in the past few decades. More women have joined the workforce and are finding fulfillment from their career achievements. Many people are no longer willing to sacrifice their happiness to preserve their marriage. If couples grow apart because of differences involving things such as their finances, interests, or emotional connection, they are no longer willing to just live with it and ride out the marriage. This change in attitude and societal norms has given rise to more divorces among the young, middle-aged, and old.
  • Empty Nest – Once the kids move out of the house, many older couples find that they no longer have anything in common and just stayed together to raise their children. Realizing this can lead to gray divorce.
  • Domestic Abuse– Physical, mental, emotional, or financial abuse are unacceptable in any type of relationship. If those kinds of abuses have been a part of a marriage (especially if the abuse has gone on for several years), it can absolutely be the cause of a divorce.
  • Adultery – Infidelity can unfortunately creep into a marriage at any point. So, adultery can be a reason for divorce at any age.
  • Addictions – If one spouse has battled addiction issues, such as drug, sex, or alcohol addiction, and is unwilling or unable to recover, after years of marriage, the spouse who isn’t an addict may reach a breaking point and leave them.

What Are the Benefits and Fallout of Gray Divorce?

Divorce at any age has its pluses and its minuses. For those who get divorced after 50, the benefits are often:

  • A chance to live life on their terms
  • An opportunity to find love with someone who is more of a match for who they are now as opposed to who they were when they were younger

However, on the flipside, the fallout from a gray divorce often includes the following:

  • Adult Children – In some cases, adult children take on added responsibilities in the aftermath of a gray divorce. Their parents may lean on them for emotional support and for help restarting their lives. Also, depending on the financial situation their parents find themselves in, adult children may have to provide one or both of their divorced parents with financial help from time to time.
  • Health Insurance – If one of the spouses had their health insurance provided by the other, they may lose health coverage once they’re divorced. Losing health insurance is an issue at any age, but especially for people over 50, who are more likely to be dealing with ongoing health problems that will only get worse as they get older.
  • Retirement and Social Security Benefits – Like the health insurance problem, in some cases, a married couple’s Social Security and retirement benefits are tied together. After their divorce, this can leave one or both in a poor financial position regarding their retirement plans, which is frightening if they’re closing in on retirement age or already there.
  • Property Division – Who gets the house a couple has lived in for 30 years or more? How do they divide up the 401K? The longer a couple is married, the more assets they will likely have acquired. This can make division of property, which is already complex, even more complicated when it comes to gray divorce.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Divorce Attorney

We all live life at our own pace. Some of us find love when we’re young and live happily ever after. For others of us, it takes a few tries before we find the right fit. At Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys, we understand that the person you were in your 20s and 30s isn’t necessarily the same person you are in your 50s, 60s, or 70s. The same is true of your spouse, and sometimes that means as you grow older, you grow closer. However, often it means that as you grow older, you grow apart. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve helped others in similar situations handle the end of their marriage the right way, and part ways with their ex-spouse as amicably as possible.

Our experienced family law attorneys know how to ensure that whether your divorce is friendly or not, you and your rights are protected, and that when all is said and done, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your fresh start.

If you have questions about divorce or legal separation, or you would like to talk with a family law attorney about your situation, contact us online or give us a call at (718) 215-0121 to set up a free confidential, no-obligation consultation. We’re available to take your call 24/7.