There’s a common belief that most divorces occur between spouses who got married in the last few years. However, modern divorced trends show that the reverse is frequently true.
Divorce rates among the younger generation have started to drop, while older adults, some of whom may have stayed married for decades, are now more likely to file for divorce. Divorce is certainly much different in your 50s or 60s than it would be in your 20s or 30s.
Gray divorces involving older spouses and long-term marriages have special concerns that require consideration.
The risk of economic disparity is higher
Couples that stayed married for decades may have one spouse who earns substantially more than the other, while recently married couples may have closer personal income levels.
A couple whose marriage lasted 30 years may have raised multiple children together. If one spouse stayed home for at least the first years of those children’s lives, possibly longer, their earning potential will have gone down as a result.
When there is a substantial gap between what each spouse can earn and what assets they have in their own names, spousal support or alimony may be more likely.
Their shared assets are likely much more substantial
A couple that divorces after two years of marriage will have very little marital income or assets, while a couple that divorces after 35 years of marriage will likely own a home and many other assets together.
They will either need to negotiate to split those assets or ask a judge to decide how to divide their property. Long-term marriages that lead to gray divorces often have complex property division issues that require careful consideration.
Previous retirement plans may no longer be realistic
Divorcing in your 30s or even your early 50s can give you time to rebuild your own assets and set money aside for retirement. Divorcing in your 60s or later might mean that your retirement plans will have to change dramatically.
You may need to consider living with a roommate instead of trying to own your own home or reduce your plans for traveling. Some people may even discover that they need to work part-time or delay their retirement for several years.
While gray divorces come with multiple unique financial concerns, they can also lead to happier golden years for those currently trapped in an unsatisfying marriage. Thinking about your circumstances and needs can help you make smart decisions while planning for a possible divorce.