Gray divorce is distinguished by the age of the couples pursuing marital dissolution. Another significant factor is the financial resources gained over the course of the union. A lack of communication during a time of a new economic reality is vital to move forward following finalization.
Finances aside, gray divorce can still be an emotionally charged process. A longtime marriage is coming to an end, creating uncertainty for the couple and their loved ones.
Defined as adults 50 and older filing for divorce, this category has doubled since 1990. Even more surprising, divorces for those 65 and older have tripled. That growth involves long-term first marriages averaging more than 20 years. Researchers believe that the gray divorce trend will triple by 2030.
Gray divorce presents its own unique challenges beyond the financial complications:
- Those out of the workforce for a lengthy period of time could find themselves back on the hunt for a job
- A financially dependent spouse who hasn’t worked and lacks experience in managing money
- Significant debt accrued throughout the marriage
- The market volatility that shrinks equity that undermines financial security
- College tuition for children that may no longer be affordable
- Adult “boomerang” children wanting or needing to move back home
- Significantly increasing health expenses
- Needing to care for elderly parents
A 2019 CNBC study revealed that 16 percent of spouses considered their spouse to be a financial role model. Twenty-seven percent of couples rarely raised the issue of personal finances with loved ones. While 45 percent – less than half – made decisions with their partner, nearly 50 percent of couples disagreed on retirement timelines and the subsequent lifestyle they would enjoy.
Factoring in divorce only creates an unstable financial reality now and in the future. Divorce should never be a hasty decision, regardless of finances. However, a marriage facing an inevitable end requires help from a skilled attorney to navigate the complexities and challenges.