Gray divorce, also known as midlife or mid-career divorce, is a term used to describe the phenomenon of people ending marriages in their 50s and later. Divorce is not always about couples with kids and a mortgage trying to end their union. Couples who have had many years together and have raised their children, can come to the understanding that the relationship is no longer satisfying the needs of the other.
The phenomenon of gray divorce has become more common as people live longer healthier lives. In this article, learn more about what gray divorce means, how it differs from other types of divorces, and what you might want to consider if divorcing later in life.
A gray divorce is a divorce that occurs later in life, typically among people over the age of 50. The gray divorce rate in the United States has increased over the past 20 years. This increase may be due to a number of factors, including the increasing life expectancy of Americans, the greater financial independence of women, and the overall decrease in the social stigma attached to divorce.
There are a number of reasons why people are divorcing later in life. One reason is that marriages are lasting longer. With people living longer, marriages are more likely to outlast the satisfaction couples find in each other. In keeping with this, couples may experience a loss of intimacy, develop contempt or complacency with each other, may cheat (infidelity) or basically fall out of love with one another.
Another reason for the increase in divorce later in life is that older couples may have greater financial resources. They have built a healthy financial portfolio together and going their separate ways is fiscally safe. They do not have to stay together because they can’t afford to divorce.
Another reason unfortunately is that one spouse may have developed an addiction problem and the other spouse can no longer safely stay in the marriage especially if because of the addiction, waste marital funds, deceive or abuse their spouse. Similarly one spouse may have become abusive over the years and the abused spouse has had enough.
The fact that there is less stigma surrounding divorce people are able to comfortably divorce and not feel like they have to stay married for society sake.
Why Couples Divorce After 50
One of the main reasons why couples divorce after 50 is because they have an empty nest. With the children out of the house, older couples often find that they have little in common with their spouses. They find difficulty connecting or adapting to life without kids. They find themselves arguing more and talking less. Divorce at this age opens up a new chapter in life.
Since life expectancy has increased and people are living longer, couples often see divorce as a way to start fresh in their later years. Divorce can relieve the tension of a bad marriage and enable the couple to end the bad part of their relationship and move to a more respectful and peaceful relationship. Their focus can be on their own personal happiness and peace of mind.
Gray divorce is different than when you divorce at a young age in a few key ways. Gray divorce involves older couples who have been married for a longer time than younger couples. They have experienced difficulties that unfortunately may have irreparably destroyed the relationship. Being older they have also had time to grow apart and no longer have common interest or goals. They have also, in many cases, have fulfilled their responsibility to raise their children and are comfortable moving onto a different chapter in their lives. More often an older couple has more assets to be divided between the two spouses, enabling the couple to be able to be financially independent after divorcing, though there is a chance one spouse may be financially dependent on the other and alimony or spousal support will be part of the divorce settlement.
The average cost of a gray divorce can be higher if the older couple choose to fight over the division of assets. In any divorce the more a couple argues the more time and money they spend. When a couple has a number of valuable assets – property, vacation homes, healthy retirement accounts – they may end up fighting over the division of marital assets. However if the couple has a cooperative mindset, they can resolve the division of property amicably. And since the children are grown, a gray divorce does not have the added arguing over custody and visitation.
Divorce is difficult at any age but can be especially hard on those over 50. If you’re going through a “gray divorce,” here are some emotional tips to help you cope:
- Acknowledge that this is a difficult time. It’s normal to feel sad, scared, angry, and confused. Give yourself time to grieve the loss of your marriage.
- Reach out for support. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, join a support group, or see a therapist.
- Don’t blame yourself. It’s common to think “what could I have done differently?” but it’s important to remember that sometimes marriages just grow apart – it’s not always one spouse’s fault.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure to eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, and take breaks when you need them. Taking care of your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this tough time.
Schedule a Consultation With a Redwood City Divorce Lawyer
Gray divorce is a phenomenon that is common as people continue to live longer. Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Bradley Bayan at (650) 364-3600 to schedule a free consultation.