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What makes gray divorce different than earlier divorces?

It’s common for divorce to occur early in a marriage, as couples can discover that they are less compatible than they may have hoped when they got married. However, if you look at trends related to divorce rates in the United States, you will quickly see that divorces among younger couples have been on the decline for multiple years.

These days, so-called gray divorces involving adults who are 50 or older are the fastest-growing kind of divorce. More couples who have spent a lifetime or at least decades together are deciding to call it quits when they get close to or surpass retirement age.

Gray divorce can help set people up for enjoyable and happy golden years without the stress of an unsuccessful marriage tying them down. However, anyone thinking about a gray divorce will need to plan for the unique challenges it creates.

Gray divorce can drastically alter your retirement

The age you wanted to retire, the places you intended to travel or even your standard of living may have to change if you divorce at or after the age of retirement. The amount that you have put away likely reflects the cost of maintaining a joint household.

Not only will you likely have to split your retirement savings or pension with your spouse, but the same amount will now have to cover the costs of two independent households instead of one joint household. There are also the costs of the divorce itself to consider. You may have to go back to work or drastically shift what you expect to occur during your retirement years.

Divorce later in life can have more spousal support implications

Alimony involves one spouse who worked during the marriage providing financial support for a spouse who stayed home to take care of the family and support the career of the working spouse. The ability of each spouse to provide for themselves is a consideration. If you have been married for multiple decades or at least more than 10 years, the courts could potentially order alimony payments as part of the divorce.

From determining how to get your fair share of a retirement account or other complex assets to trying to minimize the costs involved, there will be unique concerns in a gray divorce that you will likely need legal advice to handle properly.