Showing posts with label grey divorce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grey divorce. Show all posts

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coping with Divorce after 50 - Gray Divorce

More and more older couples are discovering that they no longer see eye-to-eye.  In fact, while the overall divorce rate in the United States has decreased since 1990, it has actually doubled for couples over the age of 50!  This trend has come to be called gray divorce, and it is creating serious problems for many baby boomers.

According to a report in the June 2012 issue of the AARP Bulletin entitled "Life After Divorce" approximately one in three baby boomers will be unmarried during their senior years, sometimes because of death, but often because of divorce. 

Reasons Older Couples Divorce

You may have read about two giant turtles at an Austrian zoo that have been inseparable for the past 115 years ... until recently.  Now they cannot be left alone in the same cage.  She even bit him and took a large chunk out of his shell!  If this kind of disharmony can occur in animals after many years, the same can happen with humans.  In addition to general irritability with one another, after the children have been raised some couples feel there is no longer a reason for them to stay together.  They want to try new things and explore new opportunities.  In other cases, working women in unhappy relationships have discovered that they do not have to stay married.  They are capable of supporting themselves.

Consequences of a Late Divorce

The consequences of a divorce late in life can be serious.  The couple must split their assets, and this can create financial hardship for both the husband and wife.  Because they are older, they also have less time to recover financially.  The home may be sold, and the equity divided.  Neither person may have enough assets to buy another home like the one they shared together. 

Women in particular, who often earn less money than men and have a greater life expectancy after retirement, are at a much greater risk of poverty.  An extra burden on women, in particular, is that they often end up as caregivers for their own parents or elderly relatives. 

However, late divorces can create stressful living situations for men, as well.  If the men have not stayed close to their children over the years, they can sometimes end up alone, with no one to take care of them as they age.  Currently, according to the AARP article, up to half of the 5.4 million people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease have no identifiable caregiver!

Coping with Gray Divorce

Unlike turtles, humans are coming up with creative solutions to resolve some of the problems that come up when they no longer want to live with their spouse.  In some cases, divorced Baby Boomers are intentionally moving in with their elderly parents.  This provides them with a home, and enables them to be caregivers for their parents.  Other divorced Boomers are taking in boarders, or moving into roommate situations.  There are also retirement villages where older singles can own their own separate condos, but have a community of friends who will help them out, when necessary.  Low income divorced seniors can apply for senior housing, although there is a waiting list for it in many areas.

As difficult as these transistions can be as people age, many Baby Boomers are finding that they are able to survive and even thrive after a late in life divorce.  How things work out for any one individual often depends on how well they have prepared for this possibility.

If you are interested in more helpful articles for Baby Boomers, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles about retirement planning, financial issues, changing family relationships, or where to retire.

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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.

If you are looking for additional information about retirement planning, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of articles about retirement planning, where to retire, health concerns, family issues, etc.

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