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Understanding Gray Divorce

More and more people are choosing to divorce later in life. Since 1990, the divorce rate for people over 50 years of age has doubled, leading to a larger discussion about divorce later in life, referred to as “gray divorce.” While divorcing at this age can feel liberating and exciting, it likely won’t come without a few substantial difficulties or complications.

Why is Gray Divorce on the Rise?

When couples over the age of 50, typically of the “baby boomer” generation, choose to divorce, it is categorized as a gray divorce. While there is no one answer for why gray divorce is on the rise, there are a few substantial contributing factors. Many people in their 50s are in their second marriage, which means they face a higher chance of divorce. For those who have already been divorced, statistically speaking, their future marriages are about 2.5 times more likely to fail.

Another reason for the rise could be the increase in life expectancy. Modern people live longer, and at age 50 many people still have 30 or so lively years ahead of them. Some couples may have had marital issues for some time but choose to stay together for the sake of their children. In these situations, couples whose children have grown may find they no longer have a reason to stay together.

The Difficulties

A gray divorce often comes with more problems than typical divorces and can be more financially and legally difficult. Divorcing later in life presents a challenging situation because the couple’s lives have been intertwined for a long period of time. This can make it difficult to draw the line and what is his and what is hers, so to speak. In addition to splitting assets, the issue of retirement, health insurance and other benefits can also present an issue for gray divorces.

  • Financial: Divorcing earlier in life gives people time to bounce back from the financial blow, whereas older couples are likely already planning for retirement and are near the end of their earning period.

  • Retirement: Older couples likely have a retirement plan or retirement funds in place, so divorcing means those benefits will need to be renegotiated and likely divided.

  • Health and life insurance: It’s possible you will need to get a new health insurance plan once you divorce, especially if you were on your spouse’s plan previously. Medicare may be an option, even if you are under 65, but it depends on your circumstances. If you are paying alimony, you will need to renew or acquire a life insurance policy.

  • Poor Health / Competency: In older divorces, one party may prove incompetent, meaning they have a medical issue that affects their ability to reason. Dementia, for example, could cause incompetency. In this case, an attorney is almost always necessary, medical records will be examined, and, if need be, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to represent the incompetent party.

Weigh the pros and cons of a divorce and ask yourself what you want the next stage in your life to look like. If you’ve decided a gray divorce is best for you, working with a compassionate, knowledgeable lawyer from the get-go can make all the difference. Trust Attorney Cole to guide you through the process and help you take your next step, today.

Contact Steven N. Cole, LLC for help with your gray divorce.