“Gray” Divorce: Unique Challenges for Older Divorcees
A “gray divorce” is a divorce that occurs when the couple is usually 50+ years old. Many of these couples have been together for decades, so the divorce is a huge life change for them, often more so than younger couples.
Couples going through a divorce later in life face unique challenges when it comes to various aspects of the divorce process. Property division, particularly regarding impending retirement, health insurance, and more substantial accumulated assets, are all issues that older divorcing couples must face. A “gray divorce” can even have a profound effect on adult children, something that is often overlooked as older parents work through the divorce process.
Older couples generally counted on one another to provide for each other in retirement. Calculations about how much you need to retire comfortably generally involved two people, often including two incomes to support your retirement fund.
In a gray divorce, retirement funds may need to be split, which can leave one or even both spouses in a tough position as they near retirement. Alimony or spousal maintenance may need to be considered if one spouse ends up taking most or all of the couple’s retirement savings.
Health Insurance and Social Security
Health insurance and Social Security benefits are often connected for those at or nearing retirement age. Again, when you planned out healthcare, you and your spouse likely considered how you would have benefits and health insurance coverage together.
Suppose one spouse suddenly does not qualify for Social Security because of a lack of work experience, for example. In that case, that can seriously impact their ability to support themselves after a divorce.
Those going through a divorce later in life are often uniquely affected by loneliness concerns. After having someone beside you for decades, suddenly living without that person can be devastating. Mental and emotional health should be a focal point for anyone going through a divorce, but it is especially important for those who have been in a relationship for a very long time.
Gray divorces can also have an unanticipated impact on adult children. Children might begin to question their entire childhood or wonder whether they should have done something different to support their parents. Unfortunately, older parents sometimes overlook their divorce’s effect on their children, no matter what age they may be.