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What is a “gray divorce”?

| Jan 5, 2021 | Divorce

“Gray divorce” is a term that refers to a divorce that occurs later in the couple’s life. The parties to a gray divorce are usually in their late fifties or older and have often been together for several decades. 

The parties to a gray divorce face many of the same issues as divorcing couples of any age. However, there are some common concerns that are unique to gray divorces. 

Gray divorce is on the rise

Gray divorces have become more common lately, outpacing the divorce rates for other age groups. There are several reasons why the divorce rate is high for this age group. One theory is that these marriages are more likely to be second or third marriages, which are more likely to end in divorce. Another theory is that couples find that they lack common interests after their children have moved away. Other theories include longer life expectancies, later retirement ages and decreased taboos surrounding divorce. 

Retirement benefits are a major concern

One of the most challenging divorce issues that older couples face is the division of retirement funds and Social Security benefits. In a gray divorce, the couple may be nearing or already relying upon these benefits. Divorce can force parties to delay retirement or even re-enter the workforce. 

In some ways, a gray divorce may seem simpler than a younger couple’s divorce. There are often no minor children and no custody disputes. However, older couples may have accumulated more marital assets. They have likely become accustomed to a certain lifestyle together that may not be possible after divorce. Divorce is difficult at any age; gray divorce is no exception.