Why Are Gray Divorces on the Rise?
In 2004, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) coined the term “gray divorce” to refer to the rising trend in post-retirement divorce. Even while the rate of divorce for younger Americans has declined in recent decades, the rate of divorce for those over 50 has increased rapidly.
In 2014, a research study by Bowling Green State University reported that the rate of divorce for people over the age of 50 doubled since 1990. For people over the age of 65, the rate of divorce more than doubled since 1990. And in 2021, the U.S. Census Department found that 34.9% of American people getting divorced were over the age of 55.
Many people over the age of 50 are finding that as the stigma of divorce has diminished, they are less willing to remain in unhappy marriages. This is especially true as couples enter the empty nest stage and are relieved of the pressure to remain together for the sake of their children.
Some people, especially those over the age of 70, find that they are uninterested in shifting into caregiving roles as their partners age and decline in health. The online dating scene has also shifted the dynamics of relationships for couples in this age group. And like many couples, the relationships of people over 50 experienced significant stress during the pandemic, which forced many people to re-evaluate their priorities.
Common Issues Associated with Divorce After 50
If you are over the age of 50 and considering divorce, it is important you understand the unique issues people in this age group often experience when going through a divorce. Divorce at any age can have a significant impact on your financial health, but divorcing later in life can be particularly complicated.
It is at this time of life that couples have often accumulated significant assets. They may own multiple homes, have complex investments, and may even be helping to support adult children. There are many issues that can impact divorce in a couple’s retirement years, including:
- Retirement Accounts
- Social Security
- Property, including your primary residence
- Alimony or spousal support
- Health insurance and other medical expenses
- Estate planning
- Medical directives
It’s important to keep in mind that couples who are divorcing at an older age may not have time to fully recover financially from divorce.
Even though older couples are likely to have children over the age of 18, couples with adult children may still want to consider how their divorce may impact those children. If nothing else, they will need to think through how to share the news with their children and decide whether and how they’ll proceed with their relationship during family gatherings, vacations, and other events in which they might both be present.
Divorce After 70 – How Is It Different?
For couples facing divorce after the age of 70, there may be special considerations, especially if one of you is experiencing cognitive decline or other health issues. We wrote in a previous blog about divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Divorces that involve these issues can take longer, and it’s likely that a spouse who isn’t able to earn income may be awarded spousal support.
Dividing Retirement Accounts & Pensions
Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means that all marital assets will be divided equitably or fairly. Although in some cases, the court will decide to divide some or all assets equally, this will not always be the case. Previously, we wrote about how retirement accounts are split during a divorce. Retirement accounts, pensions, and social security – if you’ve been married for at least 10 years – are all subject to division during a divorce.
Do Divorcing Seniors Need an Attorney?
Divorce after retirement can be especially complicated and stressful. At Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC, we have extensive experience handling gray divorces and estate planning and are committed to helping you navigate this difficult period of your life with dignity.