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Gray Divorce, What to Know


Divorces are often times complex, emotionally and mentally difficult, and one of the most stressful times in an individual’s life. The family law world has seen an uptake in what many people refer to as “gray divorces.” Gray divorces are divorces that involve people ages 50 and older. Although these divorces do not have a different set of applicable statutes, they are often unique with the different complexities that these divorces bring.

A few reasons behind the uptake in gray divorces that professionals have documented are longer lives, couples growing apart, and different heightened stressors. As professionals have documented, people are living longer now than decades and centuries prior. Further, many couples are growing apart as extended families live further away and the retirement age has extended. Also, gray divorce individuals often have different, and potentially more stressors, such as finances, retirement, illness, the pandemic, and the aftereffects of the same, and adult children’s complexities.

Gray divorces regularly involve more complex marital estates, meaning there are different and often more assets to divide between the parties. For example, attorneys see more varied assets such as pensions, IRA’s, restricted stock units, and other investment plans. For younger individuals going through a divorce, these investment plans often have not matured. However, in gray divorces, attorneys see more complex and frequently larger estates to divide. This presents additional disputed issues between the parties that need to be resolved.

Individuals going through a gray divorce can face fears of the unknown when it comes to retirement and healthcare. For individuals in this age range, they are preparing to retire, have already retired, and do not have as much time to contribute to retirement plans and investments as those younger individuals going through a divorce. Many also experience expensive healthcare premiums. This presents a unique dynamic in divorces, as these concerns provide extra layers that the younger divorce population do not experience.

Importantly, gray divorces affect one of the vulnerable populations in this country. An individual experiencing, or getting ready to experience, a gray divorce, should reach out to different experts to fully understand their options and rights as individuals. Experts that may be helpful are legal experts in family law and estate planning and financial experts. Gray divorces are difficult and unique in very critical ways.

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