Divorce After 50: How a Gray Divorce Is Different

The Divorce Rate in People Over 50 Is Increasing Rapidly

More and more people over 50 are getting divorced. This is the fastest-growing demographic when it comes to those who are divorcing. In fact, the rate of divorce of people over 50 has doubled since the 90s, and some expect it to have tripled by the end of the decade. There are several reasons for this, but namely, it seems to be that as people live longer into their retirement years, more and more people are not satisfied staying in marriages they are not happy in.

Additionally, as society moves to value personal happiness and fulfillment, many people are feeling more empowered to leave struggling or bad relationships. Relatedly, as society becomes more secular, fewer people feel restricted by religious doctrines that discourage divorce. Regardless of why more and more people in older demographics are divorcing, divorce after 50 is a unique experience markedly different from divorce in your 20s, 30s, or 40s.

Keep reading to learn about three key areas where a gray divorce differs from other age groups.

#1: Income Is Fixed and/or Limited

Those divorcing post-retirement likely live on a fixed or limited income. Whether they are seeing income from a pension plan or receiving distributions from a retirement account, most retirees do not have the same income level as they did before retirement. This can make a divorce proportionally more costly to them.

Additionally, because retirement accounts and pensions may be divided during a divorce, the divorce process can significantly affect the divorced couple’s lifestyle post-divorce. It is considerably less expensive to have a shared household than to have two separate households. Retirement accounts accrued with the expectation that they only needed to support one household may now be strained.

#2: Property Division May Be More Complicated

As previously mentioned, older adults are more likely to have retirement accounts and pension plans. These can be very tricky to divide during a divorce, especially if the assets used to build those retirement accounts are commingled with separate assets acquired before the marriage. Many divorcing couples end up working with a forensic accountant or other financial advisers to help them untangle these assets.

Similarly, older couples are more likely to own property and other unique assets, such as jewelry, art, antiques, wine libraries, or special collections. These types of property, if classified as shared marital property, must also be divided during a divorce. This is not only a challenging process, but it can lead to a lot of intense feelings and fighting between couples who do not want to see certain assets sold or divided.

#3: Social Challenges May Be Greater for Post-Retirement Divorcing Couples

Most people aren’t surprised to learn about the financial difficulties associated with a gray divorce. Still, many people overlook that a gray divorce may be more challenging socially than divorcing younger. Post-retirement, most people’s social circles are solidified, and people tend to meet fewer new people and make fewer new friends. Consequently, the divorcing couple may feel isolated when a divorce breaks up a social circle. Similarly, some people find that their children are more apt to take sides when faced with their parents’ divorce, especially if they feel blindsided by the divorce.

Though there may be more challenges associated with a gray divorce, this does not mean people should stay in relationships that are not fulfilling or which are making them unhappy. Instead, if you are considering divorce post-50, securing legal representation as soon as possible from an experienced attorney familiar with handling this type of divorce case is recommended. A skilled lawyer can help you through the divorce process and help you prepare for the future.

To discuss your situation with our attorney today, call the Law Office of Alexandra White, PC at (303) 647-4245 or contact us online.

To learn more about gray divorce, review these past blog posts: