Navigating a Late Life Divorce

Over the last several years, divorce rates among millennials have been falling. However, something else has been on the surge: gray divorces. This is the trend of the separation of older couples who’ve been married for a long time, namely happening to baby boomers.

On the one hand, you have the younger generations taking their time to say, “I do” or skipping marriage altogether. Alternatively, the rate of divorces for those over 50 has doubled since 1990 and even tripled for Americans older than 65. A late-life split can take an emotional and financial toll on parties. If you are considering a divorce later in life, there are unique challenges that you might face.

Rise in Gray Divorces

Few things in life are devastating as divorce. A study by Bowling Green State University sociology professor, Susan Brown, found that people who’ve experienced a gray divorce reported higher levels of depression than those whose spouses died. On top of the emotional effects, the economic implications are stark. Brown also stated to the Los Angeles Times that you should expect your wealth to drop by about 50% if you get divorced after 50 years of age.

What is the reasoning behind the increase? For starters, the stigma of divorce is disappearing. Life expectancy is on the rise, so the idea of staying in an unhappy marriage is less appealing. People are embracing this opportunity to find enjoyment with the additional years they have.

Challenges of a Late Life Divorce

Whether you are seeking a divorce because of infidelity, falling out of love, or to seek a more fulfilling life, you should be aware of the potential obstacles that come with gray divorces.

Division of Property

Part of the divorce process involves dividing your marital property. This includes everything from the house, retirement, and social security. This process can become much more complex in a long-term marriage, especially when determining value retirement funds and non-marital assets.


Spousal support late in life can have a significant impact on both parties. One spouse may not be able to survive alone without financial support, while the spouse paying may not have enough money to support themselves after payment.

Retirement and Social Security Benefits

You may work most of your life to ensure that your retirement goes smoothly, but a divorce can throw a wrench into these plans. Dividing retirement requires special attention, so we’d recommend that you consult an attorney or a financial professional before making a decision. Ask about the benefits you are entitled to and if there will be any issues related to your case.

Difficult for Adult Children

Beyond the financial impact, a gray divorce can be particularly hard on older children. The separation might take them by surprise and be emotionally difficult. In some cases, they may have to put their lives on hold to help deal with any issues happening in the home, taking on the role of a “fixer.”

Surviving a Gray Divorce

One of the greatest obstacles that come with a gray divorce is the complex assets that must be unwound, potentially creating more animosity between spouses. Despite the challenges that may come with a divorce later in life, it should not stop you from moving forward with it if that is what you desire. Having the right attorney by your side can take much of the stress off your shoulders and make a world of difference.

At Fait & DiLima, LLP, we are prepared to walk you through the delicate process of a gray divorce. Our family law attorneys have more than 50 years of collective legal experience and will be the advocates you need during this difficult time.

Call us today at (301) 251-0100 to find out how we can assist you with your gray divorce.



Navigating a Late Life Divorce | Domestic Violence Attorneys | Rockville, MD
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