Older Americans & Gray Divorce: a Growing Trend

Older Americans & Gray Divorce: a Growing Trend

Photo by Leon Ell’ on Unsplash

May is Older Americans Month, a term I hate because after all, what is an Older American? It is supposed to refer to the elders of our communities, which I guess I’d be considered, but I certainly don’t feel that I am!

Similarly, Gray Divorce, the growing trend since 1990 of couples past age 50 who call it quits, refers to older adults who decide to break up once they’ve gone gray. Again, not the best term, though it does roll off the tongue.

Regardless of the terminology, though, Gray Divorce is a growing trend that is predicted to explode by 2030! We support more and more Gray Divorce clients, who are by definition older Americans, and I find there are some similarities among these cases.

First, people reach a certain point in their lives, or their relationships, when they feel confident enough to know what they want and buck societal expectations to go for it.

Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash

Maybe they wanted to leave earlier, but worried they’d field criticism, judgment or abandonment by friends or family. Then they get to a point where they realize that no one’s opinion matters other than their own.

Also, there are some couples who enjoyed a respectable marriage – 20 or 30 years, perhaps – and simply outgrew the relationship or each other. There is nothing to lament! It’s OK to move on at midlife.

Especially because we are all living longer these days and may have many careers – why wouldn’t the same evolution happen with our personal pursuits?

Alisa Peskin-Shepherd on FOX 2 Detroit in 2016, talking about Gray Divorce

Finally, many couples wait until their children are grown to call it quits. They may think that it will be easier on their kids once they’re out of the house – but I have news for you. It is NEVER easy on the children when a couple divorces. Sorry to say – even fully grown adults with kids of their own will experience emotions and have opinions if their parents break up.

Regardless of the reasons, Gray Divorce is a fact of the 21st century. Learn more about it here. And check out my interview on FOX 2 Detroit about Gray Divorce.

And if you’d like to discuss how this might apply to you, click here to set up a consultative call.

Divorce After 50: The Phenomenon of Gray Divorce

Divorce After 50: The Phenomenon of Gray Divorce

Divorce After 50: The Phenomenon of Gray Divorce

As people live longer, and more independently, it’s no wonder we’re seeing a trend of rising divorce rates for Americans older than 50.

It used to be that once a couple passed several decades together, they were in it until the end. Not so anymore. Today, a marriage that lasts 20 years can be considered a success, even if it ends and the parties go their separate ways.

The trend of divorcing after age 50, known as Gray Divorce, has been growing for some time now. While Americans are divorcing less than they did in the 1980s and 1990s, (in fact, overall divorce rates are at a 40-year low!), the number of people ending marriages after age 50 has doubled since 1990, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

gray divorce

Fully, one-quarter of all American divorces today involve couples older than 50!!

Since May is Older Americans Month, I thought it a perfect time to explore this trend of Gray Divorce, which Transitions Legal has particular expertise in.

Of course, it’s never easy to dissolve a marriage, no less one that has existed for decades! You’ve accumulated stuff, emotions, relationships, and property, and dismantling that union takes time and effort.

In a Collaborative Divorce, therapists and other professionals can help you work through any issues or feelings that arise. They may also make recommendations for your adult children, should they need or want to work through their own feelings about your breakup.

One of the biggest issues facing Gray Divorce is the financial impact of what can be considerable assets accumulated over time. The older a couple is, the more time they’ve had to save for retirement, buy property, acquire investments, and more. Financial experts can help inventory the marital assets and guide the equitable division based on a variety of factors.

While it can be a rude awakening to divorce after decades of marriage and bring all the expected loneliness and sadness that a split can generate, it’s not all bad when divorcing later in life. Here are some ways to see a silver lining in your split.

You’ve likely had a good run at marriage and some happy memories to boot. Celebrate that! And now you have plenty of time for a Part 2.
You’re not too old to start fresh. What have you always wanted to do? Where have you wanted to live? Now is the time to do it all!
You likely have enough assets to allow yourself some time and space to pursue new interests and new people.
You have a chance to get to know yourself again. Everything from here on out is focused on you – your interests, talents, and more. Enjoy!!
You get to redefine who you are, and who you want to be. Shed your former roles, and explore who you might become. Introduce that person to the world.

Read more Gray Divorce posts