What Is a "Gray Divorce?"
"Gray divorce" is when an older couple – aged 50 years or older, generally – gets a divorce.
In recent years, the number of divorces with older couples has risen dramatically. Dr. Robi Ludwig wrote for Today that there are numerous factors that can explain why this trend may be happening:
- We are more accepting of divorce in our culture than we have ever been
- Our culture now puts more of a value on our emotional health
- Women are more independent and wealthier, thus making it easier for them leave the marriage.
Whatever the reasons may be, divorcing after 50 – and possibly after 20+ years of marriage – is much different than divorcing when haven’t survived the stereotypical "7-year itch." If you are considering pursuing a divorce in your "silver years," then there is a chance it could dramatically improve your quality of life for your later years; however, many people are unaware of what must be considered in a gray divorce.
What Makes a Gray Divorce Different?
In many cases, a couple entering a gray divorce will have been married for several decades. This is something that courts take into consideration when making a number of important awards.
Important factors to consider in a gray divorce:
- Retirement funds & accounts: Pensions and other financial accounts are usually much more sizeable with older couples due to a lifetime of work. In a divorce, they will have to be split, and this may place your financial security into jeopardy.
- Social Security: Your standing with Social Security may change if you become divorced, resulting in a change to your benefits, also weakening your financial status.
- Estate plans, wills & trusts: If you have been prudent in preparing for the future of your assets, a divorce may cause you to need to either heavily modify or completely re-draft your estate plan to reflect your life’s changes, adding significant legal expenses to your proceedings.
- Health issues: Many people need to see a doctor more frequently later in life, making medical coverage vitally important. A divorce can change your coverage status, which must be considered before entering proceedings.
- Alimony or spousal support: The longer a couple has been married, the stronger the chance that spousal maintenance or alimony will be awarded. Additionally, there’s a stronger chance that a permanent alimony solution will be granted, due to age or health possibly preventing the ability to work after a divorce.
Mediation for Gray Divorce
More and more we are seeing older couples seek out mediation for their divorces. This is not surprising now that research has shown that the average divorce rate of couples 50 and over has doubled.
A common issues that arise in mediation with couples that have been together many years are those related to their finances and retirement. We highly recommend working with a financial planner to understand what is best for the couple when divorcing. There are many roads you can take when deciding how you want to settle and they all depend on your specific situation.
The most important part about mediation is doing what is fair for each person. This is a different approach than having your divorce judgment held to a standard determined by the courts. Sometimes, if you handle your divorce in the court system, the financial repercussions can be devastating.
Looking to Get an Amicable Divorce? Call Alternative Divorce Solutions at (949) 558-2624!
If you and your spouse are considering pursuing a “gray divorce,” then the assistance of an Orange County divorce mediator from Alternative Divorce Solutions can help you and your spouse come to a mutually beneficial agreement quicker and with less emotional stress. Attorney-Mediator Lani Baron has assisted couples with finding peaceful resolutions to their divorce needs for over 10 years and may be able to help you ease into the next step of your lives.