Gray divorce, the rising phenomenon of long-time married couples divorcing after the age of 50, is increasing year after year. According to the US Census Bureau, gray divorces made up the highest percentage of ever-divorced adults. These divorces, also sometimes referred to as silver splitters, can be much more challenging than divorces involving younger couples or couples who are divorcing after being together for a shorter period of time.
What has caused the increase in gray divorce? There are several contributing factors.
Absence of children
When a married couple chooses to have children, so much focus is placed on raising them, being involved in their activities and tailoring their life around the kids. Disagreements between the couple are often put on hold or ignored for the sake of the children. However, once the kids are grown and have moved out, these problems sometimes become more apparent and cannot be reconciled.
Retirement changes focus
After retiring, many people find they are as busy as they used to be and that the things they want and enjoy are not the same as their spouse. Not wanting to spend the golden years in conflict or ill content, many couples opt for divorce.
People who may have tolerated poor behavior in the past because of the children or because of social implications may decide in later years that they are no longer able to tolerate infidelity, abuse, addiction or other behaviors or activities.
After having spent years building up assets, tension can arise when a couple can’t agree on how to spend their time and money after retiring.
Why is a gray divorce so different?
Many couples are nearing retirement age or may already be retired. Their children may be grown and they may have grandkids. Their assets may be more complex and extensive and determining spousal support may be challenging due to age and medical concerns. Financial concerns are complicated by the division of pensions and retirement accounts that have been built over the length of the marriage. Health insurance can also be a complication if one spouse provides benefits for the other through an employer policy.