70s Are the New 50s: How Grey Divorce Differs from a Typical Divorce

Gray Divorce
American Bar Association
March 09, 2022

Grey Divorce Explained

Grey Divorce is the term referring to the rising rate in older adults, typically from long-lasting marriages, getting divorced. In California, grey divorce is on the rise as it is throughout the country. The term was coined as research showed the phenomenon of the overall divorce rate going down while the “grey-haired” demographic’s rate of late-in-life divorce was on the rise. The 50+ crowd currently makes up a quarter of all divorces and 1 in 10 is 65+.

Why are so many Baby Boomers getting divorced?

There are a few reasons that researchers have found explaining the data of the increase in Grey Divorce. The first being that the couples who are typically married more than 20 years have simply grown apart and the stigma of divorce no longer exists as it did for their own parents’ generation. This typically happens after the couple becomes empty nesters and realizes that raising children was what was keeping them together. The second is that due to a longer life expectancy, these couples are finding themselves in their 50s and 60s, unhappy, and with 20 to even 40 more years left to live — and they want to do it their way. Finally, some couples report “losing the spark” while others say that who they were when they got married just isn’t who they are anymore. Many comment that they refuse to be complacent and want to find what makes them happy for their remaining years.

The reasons may differ but what is similar is that Grey Divorce is not the same as a typical divorce. Most Grey Divorce clients are retired, near retirement, or have reasons why they aren’t yet retired. Most Grey Divorce clients have grown children and even grandchildren. And most Grey Divorces will have a complicated division of assets due to the length of the marriage as well as the stereotypical generational roles of the husband as provider and the wife as homemaker.

To read the full article and learn about the topics listed below, click here.

Mediating a Grey Divorce

This all sounds overwhelming because it is. It’s a huge change! But you don’t need to have all the answers, you simply need to be educated. Hiring a mediator for a grey divorce will be the fastest and most cost-effective way to handle the process. There is no need to drag out a grey divorce in family court, litigating issues between a couple that has shared a life for many decades. Though it is going to be an emotional journey as you separate a life together, the technical aspects can make it easier, especially with mediation. Gather your paperwork, get organized, and your Grey Divorce can be processed so you can start your new life with dignity.

Navigating Gray Divorce through Mediation in San Diego

If you’re divorcing as an older adult – a situation often referred to as gray divorce – some aspects of your case may be easier on you. For example, your children are likely adults, which means you won’t need to contend with issues related to parenting time or child support.

That said, in some ways, gray divorce can be more challenging than it is for younger couples. You both poured your lives into your marriage and now it’s ending, which translates to a very difficult transition. Further, you’ve likely acquired more significant assets that may be quite complex, which can make the division of property exceptionally challenging, and alimony is more likely to play a role in your gray divorce.

If you’re interested in keeping your case out of court while protecting your financial rights and potentially paving the way toward a less hostile post-divorce relationship with your ex, an experienced San Diego divorce attorney-mediator can help.

Gray Divorce Property Division

If you’ve been married many years, most of your assets may be marital assets, which are treated as community property in the State of California. This means that everything you, your spouse, or you and your spouse together acquired over the course of your long marriage belongs to each of you equally and must be divided between you evenly upon divorce. There are some exceptions to this rule; for example, inheritances and gifts are separate property even when you receive them during marriage – provided you do not commingle them with marital assets.

The more assets you have, the more complex the division of your marital estate becomes. Additional complicating factors include:

  • Owning multiple real estate properties
  • Having jointly held assets
  • Having an expansive financial portfolio
  • Owning assets that are both marital and separate, such as retirement accounts begun prior to marriage

Separate assets that either of you owned prior to marriage belong to the original owner, but they must have been kept separate over the course of the long marriage. California courts begin with the presumption that all assets are marital assets, which means it falls to the spouse claiming separate ownership to prove an asset’s separate nature.

California Gray Divorce and Alimony

After a long marriage, alimony is more likely to apply than after a marriage of a shorter duration. Older couples are more likely to have subscribed to the traditional marriage template in which the wife sacrifices their own career to support their husband’s while staying home, keeping the house, and caring for the children.

Alimony is called spousal support in California, and it is only awarded when the divorce leaves one spouse without the financial means to cover their own reasonable needs – in relation to the standard of living achieved during the marriage. In a gray divorce in which one spouse supported the other’s career but didn’t advance their own – and, therefore, was left with considerably less earning power – spousal support is a distinct possibility.

San Diego Gray Divorce Attorney

Gray’s divorce manages to take on an already challenging legal matter and make it more so. You may have a decades-long relationship behind you, and untangling the financial matters alone can be overwhelming. There is also the matter of dashing a family dynamic that was years in the making, and even adult children can have difficulty adjusting. Divorce mediation, however, can help you get the job done with as little friction as possible.

If you are considering divorce, contact mediator Scott Levin today to learn more about San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law and our family law mediation services.

Reprinted from American Bar Association.