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Gray Divorce: Divorce After Age 50

Last Updated on May 18, 2022 by Turner Thornton

If you are over the age of 50 and considering a divorce, you are not alone. The rate of divorce for people over age 50 has soared in recent years. In fact, it’s so common that it’s been dubbed “Gray Divorce.” In this blog post, we will discuss gray divorce and the reasons why couples are calling it quits later in life.

What is a so-called “Gray Divorce?”

A gray divorce is a divorce that occurs later in life, usually after age 50. The rate of gray divorce has been rising steadily over the past few decades. According to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s for Americans over age 50.

Last year, Bill and Melinda gates were the latest high-profile couple to get a gray divorce, after 27 years of marriage, further highlighting the growing trend.

Why are more older people getting a divorce?

There are a number of reasons why gray divorce is on the rise. Here’s a look at some of the top reasons:

> Different priorities and expectations.
As we get older, our priorities and expectations change. What was important to you in your 20s or 30s may not be as important later in life. For example, you may have put your partner’s career ahead of your own when you were younger, but now you’re ready to focus on your own goals and happiness.

This was likely a factor in the Gates’ divorce, as Melinda Gates has said she wants to focus on her philanthropic work going forward.

> People are living longer and healthier lives.
With advances in medicine and health care, people are living longer than ever before. People with longevity on their side are more likely to seek out a divorce later in life. After all, why stay in an unhappy marriage when you have the time and energy to start fresh?

> Empty nest syndrome.
Once your children leave the nest, you may find that you and your spouse have little in common. This can be a difficult adjustment for many couples, and it may be a factor in gray divorce.

> Drifted apart.
Couples who have been together for a long time may also find that they have just grown apart over the years. It’s not uncommon to look at your spouse and feel like you are strangers living under the same roof.

Bill and Melinda gates alluded to this when they announced their split in a joint social media statement: “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.”

> Financial independence.
With more women in the workforce and couples waiting longer to have children, there is often a period of financial independence before midlife. This can be a time when people reassess their relationships and decide they are no longer happy.

> Active vs. Passive Lifestyles.
Aging couples with different lifestyles can have a hard time finding common ground. For example, one spouse may be content to stay home and read while the other wants to go on vacations and live it up. This can lead to tension and resentment over time.

> Changes in social norms.
In the past, getting divorced was taboo and couples were expected to stay married no matter what. These days, couples are more likely to end their marriages if they are unhappy. With gray divorce becoming more common, it’s likely that the social stigma will continue to fade.

What are the challenges of a gray divorce?

In some cases, gray divorce can be more complicated than a traditional divorce, especially if you have been married for a long time. You may have more assets to divide, such as a retirement account, a family business, or property. You may also have to deal with custody issues if you have minor children.

Gray divorce can also be more expensive in the long run. Because you are older, you may not have as many years to recover financially from the divorce. You may also need to pay for things like health insurance and housing costs that were formerly covered by your spouse.

If you are considering a gray divorce, it’s important to seek out the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Our team can walk you through all aspects of the divorce process and help you navigate this new chapter in your life.

Considering a gray divorce? Contact us.

Whether you are considering a gray divorce or any other type of divorce, it’s important to seek out the help of an experienced family law attorney. At Varghese Summersett Family Law Group, we have helped dozens of people navigate the divorce process and we can help you, too. Contact us today at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Fort Worth, Texas, and the surrounding areas.

What is your experience with gray divorce? Share your story in the comments below.

Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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