Gray Divorce, the phenomenon of ending a marriage after age 50, is on the rise and has been for some years now. It’s also one of the specialties of our law firm.

But what’s behind this trend of splitting at midlife or later?

Gray Divorce is the trend of couples older than age 50 splitting up

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A year ago, the American Bar Association wrote about how “70s are the new 50s,” distinguishing the differences between Gray Divorce and a split involving younger couples.

The article offers these statistics: 25 percent of all divorces today involve people age 50 or older, with those featuring couples 65 and up counting for one in ten divorces. What, exactly, is going on?

First, it’s understandable if, after a few decades together, a couple has grown apart or no longer connects in the way they did when they were younger. We change throughout our lives and sometimes, we change so much that we are no longer compatible with our spouses.

No harm, no foul, right?

By age 50, many couples have been together for several decades or longer, and it’s often the time when children are leaving for college and living adult lives of their own – pitting a couple in close proximity to focus only on each other. It’s easy to fall into a rut when you’re chasing after your children and only realize there’s a rift in the relationship once those children are gone.

after age 50, Divorce isn't necessarily a failure - it's just that the marriage has run its course

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Another reason for the spike in Gray Divorce is that people are living longer, and if you’re looking down the road to another 20, 30, 40 years of life, and you haven’t created the partnership you want or need with your spouse, you might want to go it alone or see what else is out there.

Whatever the reason, divorce at any age has its issues, and the older couples get, and the more assets and resources they amass, the more complicated a divorce might be. Especially if they’ve already retired!

Regardless of the situation, though, the best way to proceed with a marital breakup is to articulate your individual values, identify what’s important to you today and for the future, and let this information guide your split. You won’t get everything you want – no one does – but it will be easier to compromise and to divorce with dignity when you know what matters most.