Why Is the Grey Divorce Rate Still Rising?


Let us start with the Question – What is a Grey Divorce?
Grey divorce is the name for the phenomenon of older couples getting divorced. There are specific issues with grey divorce, such as dividing retirement accounts, estate planning, social security and paying for retirement.

Why Is Everyone Talking About Grey Divorce?
One reason grey divorce is still a talking point is that it is happening on such an unprecedented scale. The divorce rate has declined overall, but for couples over fifty it has actually doubled. Many of these couples are baby boomers in their 50s, 60s and 70s who are approaching or have already reached retirement age.

Grey divorce can be liberating for older couples, but it can also have a damaging effect on finances. Spouses who were not the main earners, typically women, often end up in a worse position financially. Research has shown that grey divorce puts women in a more precarious financial situation when they hit retirement. Grey divorce can be an extremely disruptive event in a person’s life cycle. Anyone who is getting a grey divorce should work closely with their divorce attorney to prioritize their future security and integrate such considerations as estate planning and retirement planning.

Why Are People Still Rushing to Get Divorced When They are Older?
The grey divorce trend began to emerge in 2004 when an AARP study brought public awareness to the trend. In the mid-2000s boomers started hitting their fifties and sixties. With college age or teenage kids, married couples started experiencing “empty nest syndrome.” Having the kids out of the house gave people time to ask themselves whether they were happy or fulfilled. Without the shared purpose of parenting, married couples may have been asking themselves whether they really had anything in common.

Boomers got married young. In 1975, the average age of marriage was 23.5 for men and twenty-one for women. It is not surprising that people who got married young changed and grew apart. What is more surprising is that the grey divorce trend shows no sign of letting up. An April 2021 report released by the U.S. Census Department found that 34.9 percent of all Americans who got divorced in the previous year were aged fifty-five or older. With the overall divorce rate hovering at between 40 and 50 percent, the rate of people getting divorced when they are over fifty is still double the rate for younger people.

Some of the reasons a divorce in your 50s, 60s and 70s may still be attractive include:
Rising property values – properties that couples bought cheap 40 years ago could be worth much more. Just selling up and downsizing could help to fund a divorce.

With the rise of dating apps, dating for older people is easier. Rather than relying on meeting people through a group of friends who are all partnered up, online dating can bring older people into contact with people with similar interests via their phones or a keyboard. The pandemic put unprecedented strain on relationships and family structures. It makes sense that the trend to say “enough is enough” was still going in 2021.

In general, people are living longer, and they find the prospect of facing into another 20 years of marriage with an incompatible partner worse than the risk of going it alone.

What are the Common Issues People Confront in Grey Divorce?
Grey divorce is not something to be embarked on lightly. If you are lucky your divorce will be amicable, and you will not have to fight over property. However, some people could be getting a divorce from a controlling, overbearing, or hostile ex. People getting a grey divorce should expect to deal with issues like:

– A drop in income and the need to become financially independent and literate. This is especially true for women who were homemakers throughout the marriage and their partners managed the finances.

– Estate planning and inheritance issues. If your ex has a new partner, they could choose to leave their inheritance to their new spouse and not your children. An ex might be a caregiver or still have health care power of attorney over their former spouse.

– People getting a grey divorce will need to decide how to divide their retirement accounts, and whether to get a lump sum or to receive money over time. A lump sum is often preferred but the process of dividing retirement accounts is tricky and should be done with the advice of an experienced divorce attorney.

The difficulty of dividing a complex marital estate with multiple properties, investment accounts, trusts or even business interests.
At Amaral & Associates. P.C., we are experienced Massachusetts Divorce Attorneys who can be your guide to the complex process of grey divorce. To ensure your well-being in your golden years, you should be strategic about your later in life divorce. We have extensive knowledge and experience of Massachusetts law and can help people getting a divorce embark on a plan that factors in financial planning, retirement planning, asset division and determining spouse’s alimony obligations to each other. Please call our office at (617) 539-1010 ext. 111 for a confidential consultation with Attorney Edward Amaral. Attorney Amaral will explain the Divorce process and answer any questions that you have and learn more about how we can help you navigate a divorce over fifty.

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