Discussions about divorce often involve significantly outdated ideas. Those preparing for divorce or talking with friends about it may discuss divorce with ideas that are actually decades old. For example, the idea that divorce is an issue for those who get married young and who rush their relationship forward is no longer a reflection of modern divorce statistics.
Between 1990 and 2021, divorce rates among those under the age of 45 dropped, but the chances of divorce increased for those over the age of 45. Those over the age of 65 saw their divorce rate triple during those years. People refer to divorces that occur later in life after many years of marriage as gray divorces or sometimes even silver splitters.
The laws that apply to such divorces are the same as the laws in place for divorces earlier in life, but the challenges that arise during the process are often different.
What can potentially complicates gray divorces?
Those preparing for a gray divorce usually no longer have minor children at home. Therefore, the majority of their disputes often stem from property division matters and alimony issues. People may fight bitterly over finances, especially when they have committed decades of their lives to a marriage. Those financial terms may have a much more significant impact on those who divorce later in life.
Particularly if the spouses have already retired, they may worry about their ability to support themselves after the divorce. Even if one spouse worked while the other stayed home to raise their children, they may need to divide retirement savings and pension benefits. There are also frequently concerns about someone’s eligibility for Medicare or Social Security retirement benefits if they sacrificed their career development to take care of the marital home and family members.
Additionally, when gray divorces occur between those who have adult children, the social to the announcement of the divorce may be much more profound than people initially anticipate. Adult children are not subject to forced visitation and shared custody arrangements the way that minor children are. Their feelings about the divorce might lead to them withdrawing from their relationship with one of their parents and taking the side of the other.
Those preparing for a gray divorce often need to contemplate both their family relationships and their finances very carefully. With that said, realizing that gray divorce has become more common can take some of the sting out of the decision to file and may help people better prepare themselves for their time in family court.