Gray Divorce: What to Consider When You’re Divorcing Later in Life


Divorce rates for those over 50 are the highest they've ever been, having more than doubled since 1990. Divorce among middle-aged and older adults is so popular now that researchers have a term for it: gray divorce. Today, more than 1 in 4 people getting divorced in the U.S are over the age of 50. 

For couples facing a “gray divorce,” especially those in long-term marriages (more than 17 years) or where there is no prenuptial agreement, the spouses will probably need to take several complex issues into consideration, including:

  1. Division of assets

    Couples who have been married for many years have often built a substantial and complicated marital estate. All the assets accumulated during the marriage will now have to be untangled. Identifying marital versus non-marital assets can be especially difficult for couples married a long time. Further, a decision will have to be made about what to do with the marital home, and any businesses that were created and cultivated during the marriage may require valuation. The distribution of retirement benefits, including pensions, will also need to be determined.

  2. Alimony (spousal support)

    Depending on a spouse's need and the other spouse's ability to pay, permanent alimony or durational alimony may need to be determined.  Additionally, rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to a spouse who desires to redevelop previous credentials or acquire education or training necessary to gain employment.

  3. Children’s issues

    Since children in gray divorces are often older, child custody, visitation and support may be non-factors. However, depending on circumstances, there may still be the need for determination of timesharing with older children who may have their own opinions about where they want to spend their time, school selection, and the payment of various expenses for the benefit of the children.

  4. Additional issues

    When couples divorce after decades of marriage, there can be additional issues not often thought to be a part of a divorce, but which are very much affected, such as trusts, taxes and like matters.

Given the unique complications and potential financial consequences of gray divorce, it’s important to work with an attorney who can help you understand your rights and assist you in achieving a fair settlement.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read here. Please review the full disclaimer for more information. Relying on the information provided in this article or communicating with Lowndes through our website does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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