A lot of people who probably once expected to be settled down and settled into their marriages for good are getting divorced after they turn 50, 60 or even 70 – and the “gray” divorce trend shows no sign of slowing.
Divorce rates are down for the 45 and under crowd, but they’re increasing for those aged 45 and over – and they’ve tripled among people over 65 years of age. Gray divorces can differ from divorces among younger couples in numerous ways, including the following.
They’re often more financially complicated
Couples who have been married for a long time generally have more complicated financial issues that have to be addressed, including things like how to divide 401(k)s, retirement accounts, investments and real estate. It may also require experienced financial guidance to navigate the tax consequences of the property split.
Retirement planning can be affected
Divorce can be costly, and dividing up the marital assets can be more so. That can affect each party’s ability to retire as they had planned. Both halves of the couple may have to reassess their financial goals for the future, which may mean looking at strategies for downsizing, managing their debts and adjusting to any lifestyle changes.
Estate plans must usually be reassessed
Both the financial and social changes inherent to a divorce can affect an older person’s estate planning. When a senior divorces, they may need to revisit their will, reexamine any plans for trusts, think about long-term care planning for when they’re on their own and reevaluate everything from their beneficiary designations to their powers of attorney.
There are still social challenges to overcome
The social circle a couple has built during their marriage may fall away once they divorce, especially if they mostly have “couple friends.” It can be more difficult for older people to find new connections and create a new support network in their lives once they’re single again.
The kids still aren’t totally out of the equation
Even though the children may be grown and out of the house, that doesn’t mean they won’t be affected. They may struggle to adjust to the idea that their parents will no longer be together, and the family dynamics may become strained. If any of the kids are still in college, the divorcing couple may also have to address how any financial support they’ve been giving them will be handled.
If you’re considering a gray divorce, it’s important to seek legal guidance early. That’s the best way to make sure that you land on your feet when this process is complete.