January 15,2019


What is a Gray Divorce?

HomeBlogDivorceWhat is a Gray Divorce?

When we see couples that have weathered the storms of life, raised kids, and perhaps even enjoying grandkids, we seldom think of these couples divorcing. In reality, it’s more common than you might think. In fact, there’s a name for it – Gray Divorce. When we talk about gray divorce, we

generally mean couples whose children are emancipated. Theses couples typically have long marriages, which may mean substantial maintenance awards and more assets than their younger counterparts. While these divorces don’t typically involve custody battles, these couples frequently have substantial assets that need to be divided.

How Common are Gray Divorces?

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, divorce among Baby Boomers (adults between 51 and 69) has just about doubled since the ‘90s. According to the research, for every 1,000 marriages, there were 5 divorces in 1990. As of 2015, 10 in every 1,000 marriages end in divorce. Surprisingly, this rate has actually tripled in adults over the age of 65. In that age group, 6 in every 1,000 marriages ends in divorce now.

What are the Causes of Gray Divorces?

The Baby Boomer generation was marked by a shocking rise in divorce rates, even in their younger years. Researchers theorize that this rise in gray divorces is attributable to the notion that second, third, and fourth marriages are typically not as stable as first marriages. The facts seem to support this theory, since the divorce rate among adults over the age of 50 who are on their second marriage is twice that of adults of the same age divorcing during a first marriage.

Underlying these unprecedented divorce rates is the realization that we are living longer, coupled with the drive to live more full lives than older generations. The most commonly-cited reasons that older couples divorce include:

  • Growing apart while raising children – often manifests when children leave the home
  • Difficulty adapting to aging
  • Need for self-improvement, but lacking spousal support
  • Overspending, or divergent financial goals
  • Incompatible sex drives
  • Divergent lifestyle choices – active vs. passive

What Issues do Couples in Gray Divorces Face?

Older couples who divorce face unique issues when it comes to equitable division of property. Special care should be exercised when considering things like:

  • Whether to keep the family home
  • How to split retirement accounts
  • Requirements for Qualified Domestic Relations Orders
  • Whether spousal support should be awarded
  • How health insurance can be divided
  • Social Security issues for marriages over 10 years
  • Revising estate plans to reflect new wishes

When determining how to split assets, whether the divorce occurs in the courtroom, the mediation room, or the conference room, certain guidelines should be followed. Every marital settlement agreement will be reviewed by a judge to ensure things are handled equitably.

If you are considering a gray divorce, contact the Illinois divorce lawyers at the Goodman Law Firm today.  You don’t have to go through this alone, nor should you. Let us help.


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