While divorce is always a difficult process to go through, people who divorce after retirement may need to consider factors unique to their stage of life.
Because gray divorce can be especially complex, it’s particularly vital that anyone seeking a divorce after or nearing retirement age seek legal advice from a divorce attorney who has experience with gray divorce.
Why Is the Divorce Rate Rising for People Over 50?
The divorce rate among people over the age of 50 is on the rise. The American Association for Retired People (AARP) has coined the term “gray divorce” to describe the steep increase in divorces for people over 50. In fact, recent studies show that gray divorces have doubled since 1990, outpacing all other age groups. In fact, the rate of divorce for younger Americans continues to decline while gray divorce is on the rise, particularly for people over the age of 65.
While a variety of factors are contributing to this still-emerging trend, here are a few of the reasons why gray divorce is on the rise:
Changing Attitudes About Marriage and Divorce
As the stigma surrounding divorce has diminished in recent decades, many people are reevaluating traditional ideas about marriage and rethinking their relationships later in life. While married people from earlier generations may have felt compelled to stay in unhappy or unfulfilling marriages, many older couples are now finding that the stigma surrounding divorce has diminished significantly.
Additionally, as society shifts away from traditional gender roles within marriages and becomes increasingly accepting of nontraditional partnerships, people over 50 may be feeling freer to explore these other possibilities after years spent in conventional marriages.
Increasing Financial Independence for Women
Another key factor behind rising divorce rates among mature adults is that women now have greater economic freedom than ever before due to advances in education and career opportunities. This means that women are more likely to be able to support themselves financially if they decide to end a marriage, making it easier for them to choose divorce later in life.
Divorce After 70
With longer lifespans than ever before, many couples feel they still have plenty of time to explore new interests or pursue different paths apart from their spouse. This can be especially true for a spouse who finds themselves married to a partner with serious health concerns. Some people are not prepared to face a shift into a caregiving role for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Unique Challenges of Gray Divorce
Despite these societal shifts, couples who are contemplating divorce should carefully consider the emotional and financial implications of divorcing after retirement. Here are some of the common issues that can arise during a gray divorce:
Financial Considerations for Post-Retirement Divorce
Divorce can be an expensive endeavor no matter what your age, but when you’re divorcing after retirement there may be less time and opportunity to recover financially after a divorce. Because the financial implications of divorce can have serious implications for retirement planning, it’s critical that you carefully consider how to proceed if you are considering divorce. By working with an experienced divorce attorney, you can protect your own long-term financial security.
Asset division can also be particularly challenging for people getting divorced after retirement. Not only must couples think about splitting up physical items like their house and belongings, but older couples are more likely to have complex assets such as multiple properties, investments, pensions, and retirement accounts. Deciding how to split assets fairly and equitably can be difficult under these circumstances.
Retirement planning can be another unique challenge for gray divorcees, especially if there are significant differences in their ages or financial situations. If one partner is already in retirement and the other is still working, couples may find themselves needing to come up with creative solutions for dividing pensions and other retirement savings.
Emotional Considerations for Post-Retirement Divorce
The emotional aspects of gray divorce can be especially difficult. Even those who have been unhappy in their marriage for years may find the prospect of separating a daunting one, and it can be hard to adjust to a new reality after so many years of marriage. Couples must grieve the end of their marital relationship and become accustomed to new ways of living.
It's also likely that children, family members, and friends may be affected by this transition as well, which can further complicate an already emotionally fraught situation. While adult children may be better equipped to handle the changes than minor children, adult children may find themselves dealing with their own difficult emotions about their parents’ divorce, such as sadness or confusion.
Coping with loneliness and isolation can also be a difficult challenge for those going through a divorce after 50. Even if the couple had been in a strained marriage, the end of the relationship can still bring about feelings of sadness and loss. This is especially true for those who have spent decades together and are suddenly faced with the prospect of living alone or making a fresh start on their own. This period can be incredibly isolating as one adjusts to life after marriage and navigates through new experiences without the comfort of a partner. It is also important that they find activities or hobbies that help them reconnect with themselves and their passions.
Call K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. to Support You Through Your Divorce
If you are going through a divorce after retirement, it’s important that you have experienced and compassionate legal support in your corner. At K. Dean Kantaras, P.A., we know how difficult this process can be and we are dedicated to helping our clients get through their divorce in a way that maintains their financial and emotional well-being for the future.
If you are considering a gray divorce, contact us online or call us at (727) 939-6113 to schedule a consultation.