Co-Parenting > Co Parenting Blog > Dealing With a Gray Divorce

Dealing With a Gray Divorce

May 02, 2023
Advice, Divorce
Dealing With a Gray Divorce

Age and anniversaries don’t get a couple “out of the woods and into the clear” in matrimony. Research shows quite the opposite.

Termed “Gray Divorce,” the divorce rate is on the rise for people aged 50 and older, bringing new challenges with it.

It’s Not Just You

If you’re over 50 and find yourself going through a separation or divorce, know that you and many others are in the same boat. A Bowling Green State University study found that fifteen out of every one thousand people over age 50 divorced in 2017 – double that of a 1990 study. By comparison, divorce rates for 25-34 year olds decreased from 33 to 23 out of 1,000 people from 1990 to 2017.

There are several factors suspected for contributing to the increase, including:

  • Baby Boomer Generation: This generation experienced a dramatic upswing in divorce in the 1970s. The same population set is now in subsequent marriages, which tend to fail more frequently than first marriages.
  • Empty-nester Syndrome: Parents slowly drifting away from each other found a commonality in raising children together. When the children left, they found that they were too different and independent of each other.
  • Financial Independence: Especially for women, earning an income close to, equal to, or higher than their spouse’s coupled with a job that offers other benefits, like health insurance, affords autonomy.
  • Life Expectancy and Purpose: Faced with an empty nest, looming retirement, and a long life ahead, individuals are taking a hard look at where they’ve been, where they are, and where they hope to be in the future. Many determine they are better off alone for more meaningful and fulfilling retirement years.
  • Quality of Life: Health concerns creep in and pile up for aging adults. With poorer health comes increased medical expenses, more medications, and sometimes depression. Costs, medication dependence, and feelings of hopelessness can tear two people apart. Additionally, the ripple effects of these can turn into addictions. “Feel-good” activities like gambling or substance abuse can put a deeper financial and emotional strain on relationships.

Unexpected Challenges

As stunning as the divorce statistic is for people aged 50 and older, the financial hardship that older divorcees face is even more surprising. Divorcees should expect fewer expenses and more stable finances with kids out of the house (or almost out). However, that’s not the case. Many factors unique to this period of life are at play, like:

Multi-Generational Family Support

Parents might still support their grown children (and possibly grandchildren) while providing for their aging parents.

Tightened Income

A person over 50 might feel like they are being squeezed out of their current career due to ageism in the workplace, outdated or weaker skillsets than a younger generation, or health concerns. Retirement may come sooner than expected. But even if older individuals can retire on their terms, they still face a stagnant or reduced income without the hope of promotions or time to correct a financial hardship.

Gender Gap

Older divorced couples can see a 50% drop in wealth after divorce, with less time to rebound as promotions become fewer and retirement draws nearer. Divorce is unapologetically harder on women than men, with about 27% of women falling below the poverty line compared to 11% of men. This trend could be due to women taking on unpaid household responsibilities during maximum earning years, leading to an inability to catch up to their male counterparts before retirement.

Complicated Capital

The more joint accounts, retirement funds, and the like, the more complex and creative the solutions must be when splitting assets to maximize value and minimize tax burdens.

Mental Competency

With advanced age comes impacts surrounding health, especially mental issues that cloud judgment, such as dementia or years of drug and alcohol abuse. This complex matter requires additional legal advisors concerning guardianship and conservatorship.

Social Isolation

It can be increasingly difficult for older adults to bounce back socially after a divorce. Women have a greater instance of never remarrying than their male counterparts, who have an easier time finding younger mates. Men, however, are more prone to retreating into solitude and developing addictions. Both can lose lifelong friends who avoid the individuals when they’re no longer a couple.

What To Do

Assemble a team and adopt technology that can assist you.

Intricate issues facing divorcing couples over age 50 call for a professional team to help strategize and implement solutions that mutually benefit both parties. Mediators and divorce coaches can guide divorcees to the most mutually beneficial outcomes. Technology to the rescue – Look for a legal assistance app to connect you to a professional.

Even though kids may be grown and out of the house, divorce can be hard on them, too. Additionally, many older adults can experience depression from divorce for years afterward, with fewer instances of dating, remarriage, and social engagements in later years. Enlist a professional family therapist, utilizing group or individual sessions, to better cope with all facets of mental and emotional wellness. Technology to the rescue once again – A divorce family app can help both parents stay socially involved with kids and grandkids while remaining apart.

Retirement funds, savings, employer benefits, and taxes are just a few of the financial details needing resolution after divorce. The longer a couple has been together, and the more intertwined their finances, the more complex untangling and dividing assets can be. Appoint a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Forensic Accountant, or the like to help set you on an easier financial path to avoid poverty. Co-parenting and expense tracker apps can help co-parents and their finance team make the most of their finances through fiscal transparency and uncomplicated alimony payments.

Share this article

Post by