In recent years, so-called “grey divorce” has become a topic of discussion as divorces among people over age 50 have risen. Whereas in the past it was almost taboo to contemplate or discuss leaving a marriage at this life milestone, people today are more open-minded about the possibility of starting over at an older age. In fact, while overall divorce rates are on the decline, divorces later in life are approaching a rate of roughly 50%.
A cultural shift
There are several factors lending to the rise in grey divorce. A prominent one is the independence and autonomy women have gained over the past several decades. Women began heading to the workplace, establishing earnings of their own and redefining what a “breadwinner” looks like. People have also redefined what marriage itself looks like. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to expect a spouse to be more than a practical partner.
With change comes misconceptions
Of course, harsher judgements often end up getting passed during new changes or shifting cultural paradigms. People may not fully understand the deeper implications or reasons behind those shifts, and react by making passing around ideas that may be half-truths or completely false. Grey divorce is no exception to this.
Here are four of the most persistent misconceptions about making the decision to divorce after age 50:
- It’s just a midlife crisis – whether it’s rumors of a midlife crisis or skepticism over the “purity” of their intentions, people can be quite judgmental. In a way, however, it actually makes sense to come to such a decision at an older age, because many people are better equipped with life experience and maturity to make such a choice.
- You’ll forfeit your retirement – while this is a risk, it’s not an inevitability. Your spouse can be awarded part of your pension, adjustments, and other factors, so it’s important to be aware of this, but it won’t destroy your ability to retire.
- High earning couples struggle with more divorce – it is true that high-net worth divorce is more complicated, and while it can take a longer time, an experienced attorney can help make the more complex aspects of property division it as smooth as possible.
- The health drawbacks aren’t worth it – some worry about the toll of grief and adjusting to a difficult new normal. It’s important to take care of yourself and find healthy coping mechanisms for major transitions at any stage of life, including grey divorce.
If you’re considering ending your marriage at a later point in life, the first thing you should do is find an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process. With a legal representative advocating for you, grey divorce can be just as manageable as it is for people in younger stages of life.