Written by Daniel A. Lewis

“Gray Divorce” refers to divorces among spouses who are over 50 years old. You’ve likely recently seen numerous articles about the “gray divorce” because divorces are on the rise for those over 50 years old. Why? Some of the reasons include:

  • Divorcing is more common today than when an older couple may have married many years ago. 
  • For many older couples, their children are now often out of the house and the couples have grown apart. Staying together for the sake of the children is no longer a factor. Also, couples face “empty nest syndrome” and do not know how to live together without their children in the home.
  • Older couples often have more resources to divide and which will enable them to afford their lifestyles without relying on the other.
  • Older people are generally healthier than ever and life expectancies have increased so they can envision a new active lifestyle. 
  • Of course, it is also true that some people have fallen out of love with their spouses and believe the grass would be greener being divorced.
While no divorce is ever the same, this is especially true for the gray divorce. There are different considerations for those getting divorced later in life compared with those who are younger. For example:
  • Each spouse must seriously consider retirement assets available to them upon divorce as retirement is closer in time and there may be less opportunity to build wealth and contribute to retirement accounts at an older age. In some cases, there may not be enough funds for prolonged alimony because one or both spouses are nearing retirement age.
  • One or both spouses may suffer from a health condition or require expensive prescription medication. If one spouse relies on the other for health insurance benefits, that spouse needs to consider the options and costs to obtain an individual plan since typically a former spouse is not permitted to remain on the other’s plan after divorce.
  • During the marriage, one spouse was the homemaker while the other was the breadwinner. Does the homemaker spouse need alimony from the other and for how long? Is the homemaker spouse able to obtain a job to pay for some or all of his / her expenses? Is the wage earning spouse able to afford paying alimony? 
If you are considering a “gray divorce,” obtaining legal advice specific to your situation can be extremely valuable so you are educated about the legal implications and are able to make important decisions. Dan Lewis has exclusively practiced family law for over 15 years and has represented many clients over the age of 50 with the above issues. Dan is also a North Carolina Certified Family Financial Mediator and mediates cases where parties have their own attorneys or choose to represent themselves, and has been named by Best Lawyers in America for years 2019-2022. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dan or any of our other attorneys.