Ending Marriage Later in Life: Gray Divorce

More than ever, people are divorcing later in life, an event often given the name gray divorce. Just what is a gray divorce?

There is no set definition. Some refer to gray divorce as divorce between people older than 50. Others put the range between ages 50 and 64. Still, others call it gray divorce when the couple is older than 65. Regardless of specifics, or the name, more people are choosing to end marriages in their mid-life and older years, even after years — or decades — of marriage.

How often does it occur?

According to studies, the rate of those divorcing over the age of 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010 as those in the Baby Boomer generation age. In 2010, one in four divorces were between couples over the age of 50. So while gray divorce is still less common than divorces among younger age groups, it is more common than ever.

Why is it on the rise?

It might be tempting to assume that those who are divorcing later in life are experiencing a midlife crisis, but the answer isn't so obvious or simple. Reasons for divorce are complex, no matter the age of those involved. However, there are some qualities of the Baby Boomer generation that make them more open to divorce than previous generations.

The generation as a whole tends to be more willing to go against the grain. They are living longer and during a time when the stigma of divorce has decreased. With many in the empty nest years, they are not as willing to stay in unsatisfying marriages.

What are the effects?

Finances can play a significant role in determining the ability to divorce, and they greatly impact what happens after. In a gray divorce situation, many times the husband has been the main breadwinner in the family. In these types of situations, the divorce obviously will create major changes to the financial relationship between the individuals in addition to marital status.

Divorce also affects other relationships, especially those with children. Even though children may be grown, the relationship might shift. Logistics and emotions of handling holidays and special occasions will also be affected. At the same time, although divorce complicates some things, children are resilient and likely will not face the same type of stigma of divorce as previous generations may have.

Grief over an ended marriage, especially one that may have been a good one for many years, can linger for quite a while. All members of the family, not just the couple divorcing, will have a unique grief experience to work through.

Most people who get to this stage of life don't end a marriage nonchalantly. The decision to divorce is no small one. Regardless of what led to the desire to divorce, quality professional help can ease the process and give individuals the support they need.

At Shafer Law Firm, we have several skilled attorneys able to handle any of your needs. Contact us for more information.



About the Author: Elizabeth L. Spadafore

Elizabeth was raised in Meadville, PA and was a local small business owner before attending Duquesne University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2010.  She focuses her practice on family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Her background as former County Solicitor for Crawford County Children and Youth services, combined with her experience in bankruptcy actions and personal injury actions, allows her to successfully navigate matters that are both highly sensitive and legally complex.





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