“Gray divorce” isn’t a legal term, but it’s a phenomenon that is having a bigger impact on American society.
It’s true that overall divorce rates have generally declined in recent years. Some of this trend can be explained by declined marriage rates. In 1960, almost three-quarters of all U.S. adults were married. By 2010, only 51% were married.
However, the U.S. divorce rate among older citizens is rising. It more than doubled for those 50 and older over the past forty years and tripled among those 65 and older. 50 years ago? Just 2.8% of Americans over the age 50 ended up divorcing. Divorce among the same population is now up to 15%.
At present, one-quarter of U.S. divorces involve a couple over the age of 50.
A myriad of cultural, historic, and socio-economic factors may be responsible for this trend.
For our purposes, it’s worth considering how the ‘gray’ divorce produces unique challenges for litigants.
On the one hand, there are some aspects of divorce that get easier, or at least less complicated. Children are usually grown and therefore custody and parenting time aren’t issues. In some case, this can significantly reduce the emotional and financial toll of the process.
On the other hand…
(1) Retirement may have just gotten more complicated. While a 30-something year old couple has 30+ years to repair their retirement 401(k) or IRA accounts, a 55 year old couple is rapidly running out of time to replace funds divided through equitable distribution.
(2) Alimony gets more complicated, too. While a 30-year marriage may ordinarily entitle the lower-earning party to open duration alimony, there is still a rebuttable presumption that alimony terminates when the obligor spouse reaches full retirement age.
(3) There could also be special issues. Is one party’s health poor or rapidly deteriorating? Is one party’s mental capacity in question? Or is one party likely to remarry, and his or her spouse is worried about protecting assets for the parties’ adult children?
And these major potential complications are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Parties may need to consult estate, tax, disability, or even elder law attorneys to address these issues.
You don’t have to go through this difficult passage alone. Divorcing after age 50 calls for experienced assistance. The divorce and family attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele are skilled advocates who are ready to assist you as you navigate the complexities of a “gray divorce.”
Contact us online today or by telephone at (856) 546-1350 to schedule your confidential consultation.