Divorce is difficult at any age. However, if you’re getting divorced later in life, or if you’ve been living with that person for half of your life, divorce can become more complicated. What do you need to know if you’re over 50 and getting divorced - commonly called “gray divorce”? How can someone get through this confusing and stressful situation - and maintain their dignity and protect their future?
What Is a Gray Divorce?
The term “gray divorce” first became mainstream around 2004. Gray divorce – or as it’s often called, senior splits, silver splitter or diamond divorce – is a type of divorce that occurs later in the marriage and in couples over the age of 50:
- when the spouses have been married for 25 or more years
- if one or both people have been married multiple times
- when the couple has only been married for a very short time
Marriages of 40 years are the least likely to end, gray divorce three times higher for remarried couples than for first-married couples. There are many reasons for a divorce between a couple in their 50s, 60s or 70s, going from financial reasons or infidelity and addiction to simply growing apart over the years.
Gray Divorce Trends for 2021
Always trendsetters, Baby Boomers are leading the gray divorce trend. While the national divorce rate is the lowest it’s been in the past 40 years, divorce in people over the age of 65 has tripled. It was only in 2015 that the gray divorce trend started to catch on. In 2015, about 10 in 1,000 people over the age of 50 got a divorce – a rate that has doubled since 1990. While divorce rates overall have dropped for many reasons including couples deciding against marriage or getting married later in life, divorce among people aged over 50 has been surging for some time now.
The increase in gray divorce is due to many different factors:
- people are living longer with better health and a more active lifestyle
- women have careers and are more financially independent
- the stigma associated with divorce has decreased
Tips for Handling Separation and Divorce Later in Life
Divorcing later in life is difficult for many reasons, especially if you had a long-term marriage with a family and entangled assets. If you find yourself facing gray divorce or separation, here are a couple of tips for you to handle the separation.
- Allow Yourself to Grieve:
Whether you’ve been with that person for a long time or it was a short marriage, grieving is an important step towards getting over something and moving forward. It’s better to accept it and let it go than to repress and hold onto it.
- Stay Socially Active:
In older adults, social isolation is a common danger. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you.
- Share Your Emotions:
Even though you might feel tempted to bottle everything up, talking about it can help you make the load easier.
- Take Good Physical Care of Yourself:
The way you feel physically is reflected in your mindset. To ensure you don’t spiral down in depression and loss, try to eat healthily and keep active.
- Focus on What You Have:
Consciously decide not to put every thought into what you have lost. The marriage may have ended, but you still have your life ahead of you.
Divorce is difficult at any age, but it gets harder the longer you’ve been married. Working to stay positive and look forward is critical to taking back control of your future.
How Gray Divorce Affects Men and Women Differently
Divorce has a big impact on everyone, but it can also affect men and women differently both emotionally and financially. Women often experience more self-esteem issues, particularly after separating from their partner after a long marriage or a very short marriage. It may cause women to isolate – and make it difficult to get back on track.
Financial concerns during gray divorce are often very different from the issues faced by divorce between younger couples, and later in life divorce issues that must be addressed include:
- retirement benefits
- less opportunity for future earning potential
- co-owned businesses
- traditional long-term marriages where the husband worked, and the wife stayed at home to raise the family
- high net worth couples with complicated finances and generational wealth to protect
- long term care and health care
Build A Divorce Team
Gray divorce issues are challenging and complicated. Divorce professionals can help couples divorcing later in life make decisions that make financial sense and protect their future. If you are facing divorce as an older adult, your divorce team should include an attorney, a financial advisor and a divorce therapist who will work together to protect your rights and help you protect your future. A trusted attorney can advise you on how to legally protect yourself, and the best options to end your marriage, including spousal support and mediation or litigation.
Protect What Matters Most
Gray divorce can have complicated legal, financial and emotional issues. Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group is a divorce and family law firm serving all of New Jersey. Founding partners Abigale M. Stolfe and Sonya K. Zeigler are skilled attorneys and are well-equipped to help individuals navigate the complex family legal system of divorce, child custody, and property distribution. The legal team at Stolfe Zeigler is committed to securing a bright future for the clients and families they serve, through guided insight and zealous advocacy, and fighting to protect what they have worked so hard to earn.
Contact the attorneys at Stolfe Zeigler today at (732) 585-1651 for a divorce consultation.