What is Gray Divorce?
Recent studies show about half of all marriages end in divorce. It is a sobering statistic for anyone about to walk down the aisle. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessarily the young who are getting the most divorces. More college educated couples are staying married overall. Instead, divorce is hitting an older generation and the term for the phenomenon is called gray divorce. Divorce is on the rise for “gray haired” couples. Divorce is becoming a popular life option for couples over the age of fifty. The term was coined for the couple who have been married for many years, raised a family, heading towards retirement and are now getting a divorce. The rates of divorce in this segment of the population keep ticking upward. Fifty years ago, only 2.8% of Americans over 50 were divorced, today about 15% of couples in this age group divorce. About one in every four divorces are occurring among couples over the age of fifty.
Why is gray divorce on the rise?
There are a variety of reasons behind the phenomenon. Usually people in this age group grow apart slowly over time. It is not a sudden event the causes a change in the relationship but a series of slow cracks that finally break the foundation. Often women feel largely underappreciated, having put their career on hold to raise the children and take care of the home. Once a significant part of that job is over and they become an empty nester, they realize how little left they have in common with their spouse. Of course, this can go both ways. Couples no longer feel the need to stay together “for the kids” anymore. Another common reason for gray divorce is one person feels they are the only one meeting the other’s emotional or physical needs. Other couples cite boredom. You have been with a person a long time, you become complacent and don’t invest what is necessary to make the relationship still thrive. Differences in sex drive and shifts in desire may come more to the forefront once the kids are out of the house. Most likely these events have been happening for years in many gray divorce situations. Sometimes a life changing situation, a child going to college, a death, a friend finding new love, makes a person realize that they don’t want to live in an unhappy marriage the rest of their lives. The problems have been simmering for so long therapy doesn’t seem like a good option. The average life expectancy of a women in America is 81 and for males it is 76. If you are fifty, that leaves about thirty more years to live together in an unloving marriage. Many people feel this is the right time to cut the cord. They just don’t want to spend the rest of their life in an unhappy relationship. They crave freedom and new beginnings. Though a huge change like this might be the right choice, couples should be beware and prepared. Both sides can suffer financial consequences with a divorce at this late stage in life. A typical divorcee at this stage has 77 percent less wealth than the years before they divorced. This life change can be especially hard on women who often can end up below the poverty line. Considering a gray divorce? We can help protect you and your assets as you make this transition. Michael Puhl of Puhl Law Group, P.C. is a board-certified family law attorney with experience in gray divorce. He was recently selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list in 2016. Call 972-569-3166 for an appointment.