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Divorcing Late in Life: A Guide to Gray Divorce

Most of us will never face a situation involving divorce in the late stages of our lives, but it’s still important to be aware of the potential issues involved. Whether you’re 60, 70, or even 80 years old, divorce can impact your quality of life as you get older, and taking these things into account can help you better decide what steps to take.

The good news, though, is that you are not alone. There are plenty of online and offline resources to help you through your divorce and make the process as smooth as possible. We’ve compiled a guide to gray divorce and how you can better cope with the journey ahead. 

What is a Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce refers to the increasing divorce rate for older couples in long-term marriages. The term “gray” refers to the fact that these divorces happen later in life, which is statistically considered for ages 50 and over. Although uncommon, gray divorce is still just as financially and emotionally impactful as any regular divorce, if not more. 

Consider this example, you have been with your partner for more than 40 years, and for some reason or other, your partner decides it is time to separate. For 40 plus years, you have created a lifetime worth of memories, emotional connection, and financial stability together. For it to end now, can seem as if your whole world is crumbling down around you. Although difficult this guide to gray divorce might help you along with this new endeavor.

Reasons Behind a Gray Divorce

Just like with any other marriage, it only works if both spouses are willing to work at staying together. Although there are a lot of factors that go into the reasons behind getting a divorce, they are often very similar in the cases of a gray divorce. Let’s take a closer look at what some experts believe is the cause.  

1. Finances 

Our finances affect every aspect of our lives: from getting an education to buying a home to raising children and planning for retirement. It’s no surprise then that money is also a significant factor in why people decide to get divorced or stay together.

2. Infidelity 

It’s easy to throw around blame when talking about infidelity, but it’s essential to realize that there are multiple causes. Cheating is not the sole cause of a broken marriage, but it is often the tipping point that causes divorce.

The causes of infidelity are complex, and couples can and do recover from affairs all the time. But for this to happen, both parties have to be willing to work on their issues and be honest with each other. Infidelity can occur at any point during the marriage, regardless of how many years a couple has been together. People change, and so often do their desires, leading to infidelity cases irrespective of age. 

3. Empty Nest 

After marriage, most couples look forward to beginning a family together and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Although this may be enough to keep them active and happy, what happens when your children fly the nest and begin to create their own lives? 

All of a sudden, life begins to change and slow down for many people. You may start to question whether or not you can go back to a time when it was just you and your spouse. Questions begin to arise whether you are truly happy with spending the rest of your life as a couple once more. 

4. Retirement 

For many older couples’ retirement is something they often look forward to after decades of hard work. Unfortunately, retirement might not look the same for everyone. This discrepancy between your vision of retirement and your spouses might just be the tipping point in a marriage that has been on the rocks already.

Financial Impact of a Gray Divorce 

In a gray divorce, couples who have been married for decades may be leaving with the same amount of money they started with or less. Divorce will undoubtedly impact you financially. Even if you’ve earned money during your marriage, your standard of living will likely decrease. 

Since many older Americans are well into their retirement years, they may not have as much time to recover from the financial loss of a divorce. However, there are ways to protect yourself, so the financial impact isn’t so devastating. 

Emotional Impact of a Gray Divorce 

The emotional impact of a gray divorce can be devastating for both parties. You are at an age when you should be enjoying life, not dealing with the emotional trauma of going through a divorce.

It’s hard enough to walk away from being married for a few years, but a few decades are different. When you are older, your opportunities for love can be much more limited than they would have been if you had divorced when you were younger. 

One of the biggest of all concerns in gray divorce is isolation. If you don’t feel like socializing or getting out of your home regularly, you could be setting yourself up for suffering from mental health issues that can arise from this isolation.

It’s not easy to accept that you are now on your own. You will grieve the loss of a marriage, even one that was troubled or not enjoyable. However, you need to give yourself a chance to heal. You did not make this decision lightly, but it takes time to process the emotions that go along with it.

Guide to Gray Divorce: Conclusion

We hope that this guide to gray divorce has given you some of the insight you need to make your divorce go as smoothly as possible. And hopefully, we’ve also helped you realize just how much resources are offered to people pursuing a late-life divorce. It may not be the ideal situation, but if you’re in this boat, don’t give up just yet. 

There’s still plenty you can do to make your divorce more accessible, from learning about the laws in your area to finding friends who have been through it before and can help. And if our guide helped you any, we’d be glad for that too. We know how tough things get during a divorce, especially later in life. If you need an experienced divorce attorney by your side, contact us at Cobb Cole to schedule a consultation today. We have been helping the residents of Deland since 1925 and are ready to help you! 

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