Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gray Divorce or Divorce After 50

Divorce Happens at All Ages
(photo by
Many people assume that their marriage problems will smooth out as they get older.  However, there are indications that this may not always be the case.  According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research from Bowling Green State University, the number of couples who are getting divorced after the age of 50 has doubled in the past 20 years.  Baby Boomers are getting divorced even at the stage of their lives when they had once envisioned themselves traveling, having fun and living in empty-nest tranquility.

In 2008, over 300,000 couples over the age of 50 got divorced, and the number is expected to continue to increase in coming years.

What will be the consequences of these late-in-life divorces, sometimes called Gray Divorce?  For many couples, their already fragile retirement savings will be further depleted.  Homes and other real estate will be sold and any profits will be shared; retirement accounts will be split; investments, savings accounts and other assets will have to be divided.  This will put Baby Boomers who stay single in even worse financial condition than they were during their marriage.  They may also have difficulty selling their real estate if they get divorced during a bad real estate market.

On the other hand, some of those divorcing Baby Boomers can expect to remarry.  In fact, many boomers who are getting divorced are already on their second or third marriage, and are likely to marry again.  Therefore, getting divorced after 50 does not necessarily mean that you will spend the remainder of your life alone.

However, any couple who gets divorced late in life needs to consult with both an attorney and a financial planner, especially if they want to make sure that both of them will have adequate assets to survive, particularly if they do remain alone for the remainder of their lives.  Both partners need to have a clear understanding of their expected retirement income from Social Security and pensions, as well as the amount of income they can expect to receive from any investments they may have.

The majority of people in a gray divorce will need to carefully evaluate their situation and make sure they fully understand their finances and immediately take steps to preserve as many of their assets as possible and make whatever adjustments are necessary to their cost of living.

They also need to discuss the situation with their adult children and work out arrangements for holiday visits and other family events, so that everyone will be as comfortable as possible.  Divorce counseling is highly recommended, so you can discuss issues such as how you will treat each other (and your ex-spouse's potential future spouse or dates) at family events such as weddings, graduations, the birth of grandchildren, etc.

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1 comment:

  1. These statistics are really disheartening when we think about the economic repercussions of seniors whose long term plan is upended in such a complete way!


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