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How are gray divorces different than divorces earlier in life?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | Family Law And Divorce |

People often enter into marriage with optimism for the future of their relationship. Some people quickly realize that their new spouse is not the person they imagined. Other people enjoy a functional marriage for years before things start to change.

Some couples grow apart over time. Other families end up impacted by the bad behavior of one spouse, compulsive gambling or substance abuse. Even those who have stayed married for decades sometimes find themselves contemplating divorce. Divorces that occur when spouses are age 55 or older and that involve couples who have remained together for years are gray divorces. These divorces are increasingly common and often harder to navigate than divorces earlier in life.

What makes them different than average divorce proceedings?

There are usually more financial challenges

In theory, the exact same laws apply to divorce regardless of how long people have remained married. However, those contemplating the end of the long-term marriage have more assets to share with their spouses. Property division can become much more complex after decades of marriage or when people are close to retirement age. It is normal for those preparing for a gray divorce to worry about financial instability caused by divorce expenses and the division of key resources. Sharing home equity and retirement savings can significantly alter what someone has available during their retirement years.

Social consequences may be more serious

People often expect that divorce after their children have left home should be less difficult for the family. However, they fail to consider how the mandated time with both parents might help the children overcome their intense emotional reactions to the divorce. Without a requirement to spend time with both parents, the adult children of divorcing parents might take sides and forever alter the relationship they have with one of their parents. Other relationships could also change substantially after a gray divorce.

Those who approach gray divorce with an understanding of the challenges involved may have an easier time creating a scenario that allows them to thrive in their golden years. Approaching divorce later in life with the right attitude and support can make a major difference for someone in an unhappy marriage.