Gray Divorces: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Seniors Splitting Up

Medical advancements are adding decades to the average human lifespan, extending it by around 30 years. Of course, this is fantastic news in terms of self-fulfillment and productivity. However, with longer lifespans comes the unprecedented increase in divorce rates in the later years of our lives.

Such separations are often referred to as “gray divorces,” and while the overall divorce rate has begun to decline and stabilize, these late-life divorces see the opposite. And the reasons for this spike are largely unsurprising when you stop to give them serious thought.

Reduced Stigma of Divorce a Contributor?

For one, long-term relationships tend to become more challenge to maintain later on in life. Pair this with our newfound longevity and the dwindling stigma surrounding divorce, and the remarkable increase in gray divorce no longer seems so shocking. Another potential reason is that marriages by this age tend to be the second, third, even fourth for many Americans, and remarriages are sociologically accepted as a contributing factor.

And at this point in the lives of seniors, many of them feel that they’ve done their part—earned their money, got their promotions, put their kids through school. It’s easy to start thinking that the milestones and functions of married life have been lived fully.

But whatever the reason for getting a gray divorce, like all things, it comes with its fair share of benefits and dangers.

Writing for the New York Times, Katie Crouch narrates the positive changes in her family life after her mother divorced at the age of 72. She recounts that her 4-year-old daughter found herself in high demand and at the center of attention, receiving constant phone and Skype calls from her grandparents.

But then there’s the darker side, which mostly has to do with your finances.

Increased Risk of Poverty

First, there is an elevated risk of poverty for senior citizens, who tend to face greater difficulty and higher hurdles in establishing and maintaining their footing in the corporate world. This is especially alarming when you factor how 1 in 3 Americans have not saved a single dollar for retirement.

Dangerous for Housewives

Perhaps no one is more heavily hit by a gray divorce than the housewife, who would have no retirement plans to augment her alimony. Even women who just took time off from work to focus on domestic life are vulnerable to financial difficulty.

Gray divorced housewives face greater difficulty paying for the divorce proceedings and looking for work after years of being at home. This underscores the need for married women to be proactive in securing their personal finances while they still can.

If you or a loved one is going through a gray divorce, schedule a consultation with family law attorney Daniella Lyttle to discuss your legal options. Call the Lyttle Law Firm today to find out how we can help you.