Gray Divorce – Ending Your Marriage Later in Life

October 13, 2020

By Jill K. Sanders, Esq.

The saying goes that one in every two marriages will end in divorce. In reality, the divorce rate in the United States is more like one in three. For those aged 50 or more, the divorce rate is significantly lower. Yet in recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of people getting a “gray divorce.”


What Is a Gray Divorce?

The term “gray divorce” refers to any divorce occurring in a couple aged 50 or more. In general, they have been married at least three decades. Since 1990, the number of people aged 50 or more getting divorced has doubled. For those aged 65 or more, the divorce rate has tripled in that period of time.

The couples getting “gray divorced” are part of the baby boomer generation. They were born after World War II up until 1964. In general, they got married in their early 20s. Often times, they had a couple of children, owned a home, and worked at a job with a pension or retirement plan.


Why Is the Rate of Gray Divorces Going Up?

Financial issues – As with many divorces, finances can cause marital discord. When couples are younger, financial mistakes can be fixed. But for older persons, there is less time to fix those errors. Older persons may also be less “employable” and have a hard time finding employment. Another challenge for some marriages is the increasing financial stability of women in general. A woman who can be on her own financially may be less likely to stay in a bad marriage.

Love and Infidelity – Sometimes with the passing years, feelings change. A couple may have grown apart or their feelings may have waned. Moreover, as people age, their sexual drive may change. If a couple’s needs don’t match, this can be a factor in leading one partner to cheat. Even when there is no infidelity, mis-matched libidos can still cause a problem.

Changing Lifestyles – When people retire, their whole life may change. If one partner retires while the other still works, this can cause resentment in a marriage. Even if both partners are not working, they may find that they have different interests that lead them apart. This is particularly so when there are no longer children living in the home.

Mental Heath and Addictions – As people age, their mental health needs may change. Often times, older persons have fewer friends and family. They can become less physically active. This may lead to depression and anxiety. For some, this can be a slippery slope into drugs, alcohol, or other vices.


How Is a Gray Divorce Different?

People who are aged 50 or more can have certain legal concerns in their divorce. They may be worried about how divorce will affect their upcoming retirement and their potential Social Security benefits. There may also be a concern about health insurance, especially if there is a medical condition. And individual wealth may be a concern, as the earning potential of an older individual may be reduced.

Contact us today if you’re considering a divorce or have been served with divorce papers. The lawyers at Pappalardo & Pappalardo, LLP will work with attorneys John Guttridge and Jo-ann Cambareri to provide you the answers to all your matrimonial and family law questions.