Divorce is one of the most stressful events of someone’s life. The pain is compounded when the divorce occurs later in life, perhaps after several decades of marriage. Hopefully, you will never have to face what is known as a “gray divorce,” or divorce after the age of 50.
If you are over 50 and find yourself splitting up with your spouse, you’re not alone. The Ohio Department of Health’s marriage and divorce report for 2019 shows that over half of divorces in Ohio occur when the couple has no minor children in the house. A large section of these are because the children have already grown up and moved away.
Who is at highest risk?
Analyzing statistics is not an exact science, and they can never tell you for sure whether you are going to be among those filing for a divorce later in life. However, we can pay attention to certain things that most gray divorce couples have in common.
For one thing, studies show that divorces in general tend to be less common the more education the couple has. Higher-income couples also tend to get divorced less often than lower-income couples.
Another important factor to consider is whether you or your spouse have been married before. Second marriages tend to fail at nearly three times the rate of first marriages. This holds true even for gray divorces.
The good news is that these same studies show that a marriage that has lasted 40 years or longer is statistically much less likely to end than a shorter marriage.
In some ways, gray divorce can be more difficult than a young divorce
Those who end their marriage at an older age tend to have much less wealth than couples who remain married. In many cases, gray divorcees have as little as one-fifth the wealth of comparatively situated married people. When you are planning for your imminent retirement and making future elder care decisions for yourself, such a difference in wealth can translate into a tremendous difference in quality of life.
When it comes to dividing assets, gray divorcees also have a much harder time than a younger couple might. Even though you probably don’t have child custody issues to resolve, you probably have other factors to deal with. Retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and pensions can be extremely complex to divvy up. In addition, after a lifetime together, you probably will have accumulated many more assets than a younger couple has.
Even though certain segments of the population are more likely to get a divorce, it doesn’t mean that it’s inevitable. Statistics don’t predict what will happen in any given situation. But if you’re going through a divorce, know that you don’t have to go it alone. An experienced divorce lawyer can help support you through the process.