What is gray divorce?
The term “gray divorce” refers to a divorce between two people over the age of 50 and/or whose marriage has lasted for 20 years or more. Per Kiplinger, gray divorce has become a new phenomenon in American life.
Back in the 1990s, gray divorce accounted for only about one in 10 American divorces. Today, it accounts for about one in four American divorces. Researchers list the following reasons for this startling rise:
- Divorce has lost its stigma in American society.
- Life expectancies have steadily increased, as have marriage expectations.
- Fewer people are willing to “settle” for loveless relationships.
- Online dating services geared toward older people give them at least the illusion and hope that they still have a chance to find “true love.”
Gray divorce issues
Should you and your long-time spouse decide to obtain a gray divorce, you likely will face considerably different issues than you would have had you divorced at an earlier age. For instance, your children likely have become adults and moved out on their own, making child custody and support irrelevant. On the other hand, if one of you served as a stay-at-home parent, (s)he probably will need spousal support in order to survive until (s)he can upgrade his or her employment skills and obtain a reasonably well-paying job.
If both of you worked throughout your marriage, you likely look forward to pension and/or retirement plan benefits to supplement whatever Social Security benefits you will receive. Dividing these retirement accounts fairly and equitable between you can prove challenging at best, especially with regard to pension plans. You may require a complex qualified domestic relations order as part of your property settlement agreement if one of you needs to receive benefits from the other’s pension plan.