While divorce rates have declined over the past 20 years, divorces between people over 50 continue to increase. This phenomenon is known as “gray divorce,” and its participants are known as “silver splitters.” Both vernacular terms refer to the color of the divorcees’ hair.
Although divorce can be hard for individuals of any age, gray divorce is particularly challenging, especially for women. Now that women participate in the labor force and have the opportunity to obtain financial independence, they have the economic capabilities to leave unhappy marriages. Nevertheless, silver splitters, and especially women who spent decades out of the labor force, are extremely unlikely to recoup financial losses associated with divorce. Gray divorce may be liberating for some adults, but for others it is a devastating experience.
What Causes Gray Divorce
One of the leading reasons for gray divorce is believed to be increased life expectancy rates. According to the Social Security Administration, 25% of 65-year-olds will live past age 90. With almost 3 decades ahead of them, couples in this age range may still crave reinvention, and be less likely to settle in a dysfunctional marriage.
Additionally, the quality of later life has increased dramatically. The average American lives for 20 years after retirement, as opposed to a more traditional 10 to 15. With advances in healthcare, this time is no longer dedicated to taking care of ailing partners or living in nursing homes. In fact, the overall time Americans spend in nursing homes has decreased from 10 to 2.4 years.
Of course, longer lives are not the only factor contributing to gray divorce. Empty-nest syndrome, financial disagreements, infidelity, lifestyle differences, and changing sex drives all come into play.
Some of these issues contribute to divorce in younger couples as well, however, couples over 50 face special complications. For example, consider the problem of financial disagreements. When a couple is in their prime earning years, they may be able to overlook the poor spending habits of one partner, but when they are retired and living off a fixed income, these financial differences become insurmountable.
Getting Through a Gray Divorce
When a couple is together in their later years, many of their insurance benefits and financial circumstances are tied together. Separating these assets and policies can be enormously difficult.
Scheduling a free consultation can help you determine which option is best for you. Call (508) 206-9900 for questions, or to set up a same-day case evaluation.