"Gray Divorce" Is On The Rise

Even as the overall divorce rate is stabilizing in the U.S., baby boomers across the nation are bucking the trend and divorcing in record numbers as they ease their way into retirement. Divorce among couples over 50, sometimes referred to as "gray divorce," has doubled over the past two decades, according to a study at Bowling Green University.

Experts point to a number of factors that may play a role in the growing prevalence of gray divorce, including longer life expectancy and changing attitudes about marriage and self-fulfillment. Many couples divorce during their retirement years when the sudden increase in one-on-one time leads them to realize that they no longer connect with one another the way they once did. With people living longer, healthier lives, many now look forward to retirement as a new phase of life and are less willing than in the past to live out their golden years in an unfulfilling marriage.

Financial Considerations of Gray Divorce

While almost any divorce can involve some complicated financial questions, couples who divorce later in life often have different considerations than those who part ways in their younger years. For instance, while child support and questions of parenting time tend to be less of an issue among older couples, other considerations like spousal support and division of retirement accounts can be more complicated and important.

Not only have older couples generally accumulated more shared assets during their married lives, but they also tend to have fewer working years ahead of them to make up for any change in financial circumstances that they may experience as a result of the divorce. Particularly when one spouse earned most of the couple's income, divorce after 50 can dramatically affect their ability to retire comfortably. The issues become even more complex in the event that either spouse has medical or long-term care needs that must be addressed during and after the divorce.

People considering divorce later in life should discuss their situation with an experienced divorce lawyer who can advise them of their rights and options and help to ensure that their financial needs will be met during old age.