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Surviving Divorce After 50: The “Gray Divorce” Revolution

Updated: Mar 5, 2019



Divorce does not discriminate. More specifically, it does not discriminate based on age. Once seen as a rising trend amongst younger age groups, divorce rates doubled among adults ages 50 and older between 1990 and 2010. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, roughly 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 occurred to persons ages 50 and older.

In fact, the rise in divorce cases in this age group has led many researchers and professionals to dub the trend the “Gray Divorce Revolution”. Dissolving a marriage in this later stage in life presents some unique challenges for both parties. An essential first step will be finding a good divorce attorney to help ensure you can successfully navigate your way to a successful and happy life post-divorce.

Post-Divorce Savings, Retirement Accounts and Finances

Honest and up-front financial disclosure is imperative. Prior to separating, you likely had retirement accounts, stocks, and investments planned for the long-term use of yourself and your spouse. Deciphering how much each party will receive and the logistics of distributing these accounts are important. It will allow you to conduct an honest evaluation of how much you will have to support you through retirement years.

If you have historically not been the party responsible for the management of family finances, it may be wise to take a class on personal finance.

Lastly, be sure that all joint debts are appropriately distributed between the parties, so as to avoid confusion and further litigation down the road. The right attorney will help you negotiate and equal and fair appropriation of all debts and accounts.

The Marital Home

Many parties wish to keep the family home for sentimental reasons, although this may not be the best financial decision. Often, refinancing the home can leave one of the parties with a higher mortgage payment or a longer term. If you are considering keeping the marital home, take some time to reflect on your monthly and yearly budget, as well as the housing market in your area. Downsizing to a smaller home may help you avoid being trapped in a money pit and may result in a settlement containing more liquid retirement assets and less home equity (the more volatile option).

The Silver Lining

The decision to separate after many years of marriage can be difficult. Typically, the loss of friends, the upset in family life, and the separation of financial assets can take an emotional toll on both parties. However, it is important to understand that this process will allow you to move on to a new and exciting phase of life. Many years of complacency and oftentimes, unhappiness, cause couples even more emotional trauma than the divorce process itself. Use this opportunity to reinvent yourself, your life, and your happiness for the remainder of your years.

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