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Gray Divorce: Implications For Divorce Over 50


Divorce is on the rise among middle-aged and elderly seniors across the U.S. and in other countries. Since 2000, divorce rates in total have leveled off, but rates amongst adults 50 and older have skyrocketed. While some might argue “gray divorce” is due to a mid-life crisis of sorts, others argue quite the opposite. While divorce was shunned and stigmatized in past decades, this stigma is no longer present. People are living longer, well into their eighties, nineties and beyond. Many Baby Boomers are delaying retirement, or both spouses might still work. The kids are out of the house, and a couple might decide they want to spend their golden years alone, or with someone new. Everyone has their own reasons for contemplating divorce, but divorcing in middle or old age requires special consideration. 

Complex Property & Income Distribution 

As we age, we continue to contribute more funds and savings to our nest egg and retirement assets. As a person approaches their sixties and seventies, they have likely accumulated some wealth, built their retirement or 401K, and may have a burgeoning real property portfolio. Not to mention investment accounts, a ROTH IRA, or trusts, and an elderly couple has likely devoted time to estate planning as well. Divorce for aging couples that have amassed wealth and entangled finances can be difficult to sort through. If a postnuptial agreement exists, dividing assets is completed according to the agreement, and the same is true for a prenuptial agreement. Otherwise, the divorcing couple may need to negotiate a marital settlement agreement, a QDRO (or qualified domestic relations order) and each spouse will have to complete a thorough financial statement. Special consideration should be given to dividing a pension or retirement assets, as each party has limited time to replenish these funds as they approach old age. 

Changing Family Dynamics 

Divorcing with small children and teenagers is challenging for the whole family. There is the matter of custody, child support, and changing schedules, routine and a home for small children. Often children don’t understand what is happening or why. Young children may even blame themselves for their parents’ separation, or one parent may attempt to alienate the other parent using the child as a conduit. Sadly, this dynamic often carries over when middle aged and elderly adults decide to divorce. Couples wishing to separate may drag adult children into the mix, forcing one child to choose sides, facilitate discussion or help with finding a lawyer or drafting pleadings. Adult children are not an appropriate outlet to vent about the other spouse’s shortcomings. It is important for parents in their golden years to refrain from burdening their children or revealing information that may be inappropriate or best reserved for counseling. Both parents deserve to be happy, whether that is together or separate, and divorce doesn’t change the fact that a family is still a family. Still, it is important to keep some perspective in mind if contemplating a divorce late in life.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you are considering divorce and have since retired, are approaching retirement, or have considerable assets to divide, you may benefit from the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Attorney William Wallshein is a seasoned divorce attorney, practicing throughout South Florida for more than thirty years. Many couples choose to retire here, but the marriage does not always survive. And the longer a marriage exists, the more complicated property and asset distribution can get. West Palm Beach family lawyer Wallshein is dedicated to providing candid advice and guidance to his clients, and can assist you too. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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