It’s no longer taboo or unusual for older couples to seek a divorce. In fact, divorces between people over age 50—known colloquially as a “grey divorce”—have risen in recent years, even as the overall number of people getting divorced decreases.
There are numerous factors influencing this rise in older Americans leaving their marriages. Women are more independent than ever before, meaning they’re no longer necessarily stuck in unhappy marriages. Retirement can also play a role, particularly if both partners have different ideas about how to spend the time.
It’s liberating not to be tied up in an unhappy relationship just because of antiquated expectations and values. However, even with this paradigm shift, grey divorce comes with its own unique set of concerns that younger couples don’t necessarily have to face, and which make it more difficult to deal with.
Here are four factors that come into play for divorcing later in life:
- Retirement and social security – for couples choosing to divorce around the time of retirement age, one spouse may receive payments through the other’s social security funds. In other cases, a spouse might discover they don’t qualify for benefits, which can present significant financial difficulties. Similarly, retirement savings may be difficult to divide up.
- Financial security – it’s estimated that 27% of women who experience grey divorce end up in poverty after the divorce is finalized. This is especially significant for women, who may have spent their lives as homemakers and have difficulties finding a job with little to no career experience.
- Life insurance – if you’re ordered to pay alimony, you’ll be required to have a life insurance policy. The trouble is that life insurance policies may have expired, and taking a new one can cost upwards of $20,000 in annual premiums this late in life.
- Mental and physical health impacts – it’s simply more jarring and difficult to exit a long marriage during a stage of life where it’s more complicated to untangle from a spouse. There are higher rates of depression and raised blood pressure in people who divorce after a certain age, and these health concerns are not to be taken lightly.
If you’re considering divorcing and you’re over age 50, it’s important to find an experienced lawyer who can take on the challenges of a grey divorce and help you get your life back as smoothly as possible.