Previous generations of those over age 60 rarely divorced. It simply was not done. For religious, cultural and societal reason divorce among grandparents was virtually unheard. No longer. Recent studies, in part begun by the ending of Al and Tipper Gore’s marriage, have found that “gray divorce” is no longer a statistical outlier.
And these divorces are not just among the recently remarried. Second marriages have long tended to have a much higher likelihood of divorce. Researchers from Bowling Green State University report that more than half, or 55 percent, of these divorces are long-term marriages where the couple has been married 20 or more years.
These divorces tend to be less acrimonious that those involving younger couples, perhaps because the children are grown and contentious issues, such as child custody or child support are no longer relevant. They couples may have had focused roles within the marriage and once the children are no longer home and the couple moves toward retirement, they find they have little in common.
Property division can take on increased importance, whether a high net worth divorce or one involving more limited assets and retirement accounts, the current numbers suggest that the divorced elderly in the U.S. tend to have much fewer assets than the married elderly.
If you decide divorce may your next step, you should consider how it would affect your retirement savings and accounts, your living arrangements, your social circles and your planning for care should your health suffer a decline. With no spouse, you will need to develop plans for such contingencies.
Gray divorce is more likely as women, who are most likely to initiate a divorce, become less likely to be satisfied with an empty, hollow marriage. Nonetheless, you need to work with your divorce attorney to ensure that your settlement protects your financial future.
The Washington Post, “Till Death Do Us Part? No way. Gray Divorce on the Rise,” Brigid Schulte, October 8, 2014