Divorce among older people is causing multiple challenges

For Colorado residents who are assessing their lives and thinking about whether their marriage is salvageable, here are myriad factors that enter the equation. That includes children, finances and how they will move forward if they decide to end the marriage.

While this often impacts younger people in their 20s and 30s, it is growing increasingly common for older people to decide to divorce even if they have been together for decades.

The term “gray divorce” is used as a category for these couples and this phenomenon is drawing greater attention as it happens with greater frequency. People who are potentially heading toward a divorce in this age range should know how their unique situation will be affected.

How the rise in gray divorce is changing people’s lives

Statistically, divorce is decreasing for most age groups. For those who are 50 and older, however, it is increasing. A study from Pew Research reports that those in this age range have had twice as many divorces as they did 3 decades ago.

This is far higher than other age ranges. For example, people 40 to 49 saw a 14% increase; those 25 to 39 had a 21% drop. Anecdotal stories are coming out about the difficulties people face with this type of divorce. Financially and personally, they need to determine how they will move forward once the long-term marriage ends in divorce.

Among the factors that contribute to this uptick are people living healthier, more active lives and realizing that they are unhappy in their marriage. With a 50 year old, they can reasonably expect to live 30-plus more years at least – many of which they will be able to enjoy life with vacations, exercise and more.

Regarding finances, a National Institutes of Health Study found that women were greatly damaged by a gray divorce. They saw a 45% reduction in their standard of living. For men, it was 21%. Twenty percent of divorced women 65 and older are at the poverty level.

Being protected is essential with any family law case, but especially with gray divorce

With a gray divorce, the issues of maintenance and property division will inevitably arise. The sides might have established a standard of living that one will struggle to maintain after the marriage is over.

The court will consider this and strive to make a maintenance award to address it. For example, if one was a homemaker or had jobs in which they earned less than the primary breadwinner, they have a reasonable expectation to get support to keep up the same lifestyle they had while they were married.

It is less likely that there are young children to care for in a gray divorce than in a younger person’s divorce, but it is possible. That too is considered. Retirement accounts like IRAs, pensions and Social Security could also be up for dispute.

Some might rely on their spouse for medical coverage and do not know what they will do if they are not old enough for Medicare but still need some form of insurance. These issues must be navigated from the perspective of the spouse who may be expected to pay and the one who expects to receive financial support.

In these cases, it is wise to have professional guidance not just to maximize what a person gets in the divorce settlement, but to be protected in general. Since people are living longer, more active lives and this may be the catalyst to end a marriage even in older couples, it is vital to be shielded with experienced advice from the start of the divorce process.

For all areas of family law, it is important to have comprehensive guidance that cares about the outcome and can assist with reaching a positive result.