Divorce Over 50? Welcome to the World of Gray Divorce

gray divorce

It’s a new year and maybe one of your resolutions is to get rid of your tired old spouse.  If so, you wouldn’t be alone.

What is gray divorce?


One of the biggest retirement stories over the last couple of years has been the spike in divorce for people aged 50 and over.  According to a Pew Research report in March of 2017, the number of divorces for couples over age 50 is twice that in the 1990’s.


There are a variety of reasons for this trend, but a big one is longevity.  If you are 60, retired, the kids are gone, and in good health, you could live another 30 years.  Maybe the idea of spending 24/7 with someone you don’t like so much isn’t something you can put up with.  If that’s the case, be aware of some pitfalls:


It’s more expensive to live separately than together.

Expect your lifestyle to adjust downward.  And for goodness sakes (ladies, especially) don’t fight for the marital house!  You will both need something smaller and less expensive that you can sustain on your new smaller asset pool.


Your social life could suffer, and your grown kids may react in ways you don’t expect.

Be ready to make new friends and let go of old relationships that may grow awkward.  Be patient as your kids adjust to the new situation. Remember, now they may have in-laws to juggle holidays with and visiting two sets of natural parents will be inconvenient.  Try not to be resentful of the split time with your kids.


Women tend to suffer financially after divorce, and men tend to suffer more socially.

If you have been married for longer than 10 years AND REMAIN UNMARRIED, you can qualify for a spousal Social Security benefit of about half of your ex-spouse’s benefit.  This will not affect his/her payment from Social Security.  If you had your own work income, it’s possible your own Social Security will offer the higher payout, but check first before you decide which benefit to take.


As you age or your health changes, care-giving expenses will go up because you may have to hire out help that your spouse could have provided.

If college is not finished for your kids, you will need to decide how to handle that cost going forward.  Most importantly, you must communicate any changes to your student, so he/she can prepare for any variations your divorce will bring to their education plans.  Remember, promises you made pre-divorce may not be able to be kept post-divorce.


At a very minimum, consult a Certified Divorce Financial Advisor ™ when figuring out how to split assets, divide pensions, and calculate maintenance.  A CDFA could save you tons in tax mistakes and help come to a more equitable financial agreement without costly court proceedings.


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