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Why is gray divorce different?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | DIVORCE - Divorce

For one reason or another, divorce rates in the United States are on the decline – except among the older generations. 

Divorce rates among those over 45 years of age have increased in the last few decades, with divorce rates among those 65 years of age and above having actually tripled between 1990 and 2021

These so-called “gray” divorces are very different from divorces between couples who are in their 20s and 30s, for many reasons.

The priorities have shifted

Younger couples typically have fewer assets to split, so they may be more concerned about getting the divorce over as quickly as possible than a fair division of the marital property – unless they have children. If they have children, issues of custody and support are usually the primary focus in negotiations or litigation.

Older couples, however, typically have “empty nests,” and aren’t concerned about custody – but they are worried about making sure that they get a fair share of whatever retirement nest egg they’ve been building with their spouse, maintaining their lifestyle (as much as possible) and keeping their health insurance. There’s also a higher likelihood that spousal support may be an issue in long-term marriages where one spouse was always the primary breadwinner.

The social impact isn’t the same

Younger individuals may find it a lot easier to “move on” after a divorce than their older counterparts. Couples in short-term marriages may still have separate support networks through the friend groups they had before marriage. They may also find it easier to simply pick up and move after their divorce is over, if they’re so inclined, since they still find it easy to form new social connections.

Older couples often have heavily intertwined social networks and friendships, and they may find that their friends feel like they have to “choose sides.” That can lead to significant social upheaval and isolation for one or both parties. It can also be harder to form new relationships when you’re older, and dating again can be daunting.

For multiple reasons, it’s always best to have experienced legal guidance when you’re going through a gray divorce. That can help you focus on your priorities and make it easier to handle the emotional aspects of the situation, as well.