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What Is a Gray Divorce?


Everything You Need to Know About Divorce After 50

“Gray divorce” describes dissolutions of marriages involving spouses over 50 who have been together for more than 20 years. This age group has seen a spike in divorce rates in recent years, which introduces unique obstacles and considerations less apparent in a younger couple’s divorce.

Reasons for a Late Divorce

The decision to end a marriage is personal to a given couple and depends on their unique challenges. Still, a few common causes of gray divorce have been identified beyond typical dissatisfaction:

  • Postponed divorces: A couple may have waited until their children grew up to officially split
  • Retirement: This new chapter changes the daily life of couples, leaving some to find that they are no longer as compatible as they once were
  • Stability: An individual may have waited until they felt they could live independently

The causes of divorce vary between couples. However, the complications it can introduce are strikingly similar among gray divorces.

Unique Considerations for Divorces after 50

The lives of couples pursuing a gray divorce are so intertwined that separation is far more complex. Couples face significant challenges with:

  • Alimony: For older stay-at-home spouses, their time out of the workforce may be too significant to obtain a well-paying job that can support the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. If you need to pay alimony to support a partner in this position, it can be a considerable expense you were not prepared for.
  • Asset division: Couples who have been together for decades often have a difficult time deciding who owns what as they have shared their property for so long.
  • Retirement savings: Your retirement savings may be divided between you and your spouse, calling you to decide between either delaying your own retirement or adopting a more modest lifestyle.

Social Security is also a pertinent consideration among older couples.

Spousal Social Security Benefits

Social Security is another key discussion point in gray divorces. One spouse may be entitled to the other’s Social Security benefits if:

  • The couple has been married for at least 10 years
  • The spouse seeking benefits is at least 62
  • The spouse seeking benefits has not remarried after the divorce
  • The spouse whose benefits are being sought is eligible for Social Security benefits
  • The spouse seeking their ex’s benefits is entitled to less Social Security benefits on their own

An individual’s entitlement to their spouse’s Social Security benefits will terminate if they remarry. However, if they later get divorced, you may be eligible to receive these benefits once again.

At Gille Kaye Law Group, PC, our lawyers understand how difficult a divorce can be at any age. Call us today for compassionate assistance: (626) 340-0955.

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