Gray Divorce: How Is It Like to Leave the Marriage When You’re 50?

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Not all marriages end with till death do us part. Instead, they end in divorce, which can happen at any age. A good example is a gray divorce.

What Is Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce is a term for divorces that occur in later life, typically after 50. The term was coined in the early 1990s, and it has become increasingly common in recent years.

So what factors contribute to the increase in gray divorces? There are many reasons, but some of the most common include:

  • The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age, and many are choosing to divorce instead of living an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage.
  • People live longer and are more likely to be healthy enough to enjoy a second or third act in life, including a new relationship or even remarriage.
  • The stigma of divorce has decreased in recent years, and more people are comfortable choosing to end a bad or unhappy marriage.
  • The increase in women’s empowerment has made many wives feel like they don’t have to stay in an unhappy or abusive marriage.
  • Economic factors such as job loss or the high cost of living can also lead to divorce.

Whatever the reasons, gray divorces are becoming more common. And while many challenges come with them, they also have several benefits. For example:

  • Gray divorces can be liberating: After years of being stuck in an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage, many men and women are excited to be free of their unsupportive partners.
  • Gray divorces can be financially beneficial: If you or your spouse is looking after an elderly parent or family member, you may find that the financial burden of providing the care becomes too much. If you file for divorce first, it may help relieve some of that financial burden.
  • Gray divorces can help with a second chance at love: Life isn’t always easy, and many people make mistakes when choosing their life partner. If you were perhaps too young when you met your spouse or made a choice when you weren’t ready for marriage, gray divorce offers a second chance to find love later in life.

How Older People Can Cope with Gray Divorce

Despite the benefits, divorcing at this age comes with unique challenges. They can learn to manage them with these ideas:

1. Work with a Lawyer

One’s age doesn’t mean they’re smart enough to divorce DIY. Besides, the process can still be emotionally and physically time-consuming, heartbreaking, and stressful.

Older couples are better off working with a divorce attorney throughout the journey. The lawyer will help take some load off, ensure both parties abide by the law, and represent one in court if a battle ensues.

2. Consider Other Options Besides Going to Court

For older people, time becomes even more precious. The faster they can get divorced, the better. One option to achieve that is to avoid going to court as much as possible. Instead, they can consider:

  • Meditation: It’s a less aggressive, more cooperative version of going to court. In divorce mediation, both parties come to a mutual agreement with the assistance of an impartial mediator.
  • Collaborative Divorce: Here, both parties work with their lawyers but keep the discussions amicable and focus on resolving disputes outside of court. The attorneys also agree not to bring matters to court.
  • Arbitration: This is another way to settle disputes without court. In arbitration, a neutral third party listens to both sides and makes a binding decision that both parties must comply with.
  • Uncontested Divorce: This is the simplest way to get divorced. When both parties agree on all the divorce terms, they can file for an uncontested divorce and avoid most (if not all) court proceedings.


3. Organize Finances Early On

Older couples are more likely to go through a high-net-worth divorce, which means a considerable value of assets is on the line. The best way to avoid any financial disputes is to organize finances as early in the divorce process as possible. This includes:

  • listing all assets and liabilities
  • dividing assets and debts fairly
  • keeping detailed records of all transactions

Depending on the age and lifestyle, ex-partners also have to discuss spousal support or alimony. The older spouse who had to leave their careers to take care of the household might struggle to reenter the workforce.

4. Be Open to Receiving Emotional Support

Older people going through divorce are not immune to the different stages of grief and loss. While their situation may tempt them to isolate themselves, being alone may not be the best idea. Seniors are more likely to experience depression.

Now is one of the best times to receive love. They can seek the support of friends and family throughout the process. This can provide much-needed emotional comfort and practical help.

Divorce can be a complicated process at any age, but it can be incredibly challenging for older couples. By taking the time to understand the ins and outs of gray divorce, married baby boomers can make the separation easier on themselves and ensure that they come out of the ordeal with as few negative consequences as possible.

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