Byron R. Berry

What Happens When Marriage Ends after 50?

When couples get married, everyone agrees that they’re in it for the long haul; for better or for worse. However, sometimes feelings change, people evolve and emotional distance increases enough for happily ever after to come to a premature end with divorce. When marriages end, it’s a given that couples must go through legal hurdles and make considerations for the future. But what happens when divorce occurs during one’s golden years? When it comes to the “gray divorce,” there are certain things future divorcees over the age of 50 need to know.

What Is a Gray Divorce?

Over the years, overall social acceptance of divorce has increased thanks in large part to the evolution of traditional roles of men and women. People no longer feel compelled to stay married if their union fails to provide a sense personal and/or emotional fulfillment. This being the case, more and more people over the age of 50 are getting divorced when they feel their marriages do not work anymore. In fact, according to a study from a pair of sociologists at Bowling Green State University, the number of gray divorces (i.e., divorces that occur over the age of 50) has doubled since 1990. Since gray divorce is more common nowadays, there are certain considerations to make in these instances that are a bit different from divorce occurring earlier in life.

Considerations for Gray Divorce

As with any divorce, gray divorces can pose sticky situations that call for both parties to make some adjustments in their lifestyles. Below are just a few considerations people over the age of 50 need to make when filing for divorce:

  • Financial planning – Divorces call for division of assets that can leave one or both parties financially strained. With gray divorce, there’s the added stress of considering Social Security, retirement savings, insurance, future housing and other matters. Therefore, it’s wise to meet with a financial planner/advisor before, during and after a gray divorce in order to fully know where you stand financially. Don’t be afraid to downsize, if need be.
  • Retirement – It takes a long time to save for retirement, but in a gray divorce, those savings may be evenly split between exes. Some people may even opt to offer more of their pensions in order to avoid alimony payments. Regardless of how retirement is split up, it’s important to plan on the savings to be split in some way.
  • Alimony – For younger divorcees, alimony, or spousal support, is commonly granted until they are financially sound. The same thing goes in most cases of gray divorce. Unless the ex-spouse is permanently disabled, alimony can be granted for no longer than 10 years.
  • Keeping the house – If one of the parties in a gray divorce keeps the house once shared with an ex, he or she will commonly have to give up something else to balance things out. This could include cars, boats, vacation homes and even large portions of pensions.
  • Stay civil – Divorce is inherently difficult at any age, so it doesn’t help to go through the process overly bitter, cynical or disagreeable. It also helps to not overshare anything happening in one’s personal life, as doing so could grant the opposing party more negotiating clout. You don’t have to be friends with your ex, but it will help matters if you remain civil and politely straightforward. Remaining civil will make for a smoother divorce process and help keep relationships with grown children and other family members as amicable as possible.
  • Schedule a consultation – Divorces, regardless of if it’s a gray divorce or not, are complicated issues in both an emotional and legal sense. Therefore, it’s wise to schedule a consultation with a reputable divorce attorney who can provide expert insight and/or representation when matrimony comes to an end.

Are You Going Through a Gray Divorce?

If you or someone you know is considering a divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant. We are well versed in divorce law and will be more than happy to provide our far-reaching legal expertise to address your situation. Give us a call today to set up a consultation at (940) 387-3518, or contact us here.