The Rise of ‘Grey Divorce’: Navigating Divorce in Your 50s and Beyond

The Rise of 'Gray Divorce': Navigating Divorce in Your 50s and Beyond

In recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift in the landscape of divorce. The phenomenon dubbed ‘grey divorce’ has been gaining momentum. Unlike the stereotypical image of divorce happening in the younger years, ‘gray divorce’ refers to the separation of couples who are in their 50s and beyond.  We’re diving into the reasons behind the increasing trend  and rise of grey divorce in California and discuss the unique challenges faced by older adults going through this life-altering transition.

As a divorce attorney and mediator since 2004, I can certainly attest to the growth of grey divorce cases that I have personally mediated. In 2023, more than twenty mediations involved couples married 25 years or more, and we had six divorce mediations with both parties eighty years old or more. I discuss these trends below and the unique issues and circumstances they pose, but really every divorce is like a snowflake, they are all different and unique. So the issues can be resolved in mediation, there is no doubt about that.

I want to share what I hear most often from couples who divorce with my help in their 50s and beyond. They share that they are thrilled to have been able to get the divorce process resolved quickly and fairly so they avoided a messy separation that could have taken years. Grey divorce couples inherently have less time than their younger counterparts and so it’s the time savings that our mediation services produce that they most cherish.

In San Diego, a litigated divorce that will start next month in January 2024 will not finalize for roughly 2.5 years. Our clients typically sign settlement agreements within 2.5 months. Which process do you think is best if time and limiting stress were the two highest priorities?  I encourage you to contact me or leave your thoughts in the post below. These articles will hopefully become more of a two-way conversation in 2024 and beyond and I hope to hear from you.

The Trend of Gray Divorce

Gray divorce is on the rise, and it’s not just a minor statistical anomaly. In an article recently published by the American Bar Association which Scott Levin authored on California Grey Divorce trends, the research shows that divorce among older adults has more than doubled in the past 25 years. While the reasons for this trend are diverse, here are some contributing factors:

  • Increased Longevity: As people live longer, they may feel that they have more life to live and wish to do so independently.
  • Changing Norms: Societal norms around divorce have evolved, making it more acceptable for older individuals to seek a new chapter in their lives.
  • Empty Nest Syndrome: Once children leave home, couples may find themselves facing an ’empty nest’ and reevaluating their relationship.
  • Financial Independence: Many older individuals are financially independent and no longer feel tied to their spouse due to financial constraints.

Grey Divorce Challenges Faced by Older Divorcees

Grey divorce comes with its own set of unique challenges:

  • Financial Concerns: Older adults often have complex financial portfolios, shared assets, and retirement accounts. Dividing these assets can be complicated.
  • Retirement Reconsideration: Divorce may necessitate changes in retirement plans, such as postponing retirement or adjusting the lifestyle you had envisioned.
  • Healthcare and Insurance: Access to healthcare and insurance can be a concern, particularly when one spouse was dependent on the other’s coverage.
  • Emotional Impact: The emotional challenges of divorce can be amplified for older individuals, as they grapple with a longer history and shared memories.
  • Social Networks: Gray divorce can disrupt established social networks and connections, leading to feelings of isolation.

Navigating Gray Divorce with Resilience

While gray divorce poses unique challenges, it’s important to remember that this life change can also bring newfound freedom, personal growth, and a chance to redefine your life. Here are some tips to navigate gray divorce with resilience:

  • Financial Planning: Seek professional guidance to create a clear financial plan and understand the implications of asset division on your retirement.
  • Emotional Support: Consider therapy or support groups to help you process your emotions and adjust to the changes.
  • Legal Expertise: Consult an attorney experienced in divorce for older individuals to ensure your rights and interests are protected.
  • Future Planning: Start envisioning your post-divorce life and the opportunities it brings, such as pursuing new passions, career changes, or even exploring new relationships.

Gray divorce is a rising trend with its own unique set of challenges, but it’s also an opportunity for personal growth and a chance to chart a new path in the second half of life. By addressing the financial, emotional, and legal aspects of gray divorce, older adults can navigate this life transition with resilience and look forward to a fulfilling future. Remember, it’s never too late to embrace change and seek happiness on your own terms.

Scott Levin divorce mediator in his San Diego California office

Begin the low-stress process with 5-Star rated Divorce Mediation Expert, Scott F. Levin, Esq, at San Diego Divorce Mediation. You’ll have access to flexible options, including virtual meetings. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and see the difference mediation can make. By choosing mediation, you can save time, money, and emotional stress, while maintaining control over the outcome of your divorce.

As a boutique family law firm providing mediation services throughout California for a wide range of family law issues, including divorce, custody, financial and support issues, we empower couples to resolve their divorce amicably.  We guide couples through the divorce process in a confidential space without the couple ever having to the to court. .