What Causes Gray Divorce?

Gray (or grey) divorce refers to a divorce involving individuals who are 50 years of age or older. Many high-profile cases, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, have brought attention to the growing number of gray divorces. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, adults ages 55 to 64 have the highest number of divorces among married adults over age 20.

Common Reasons for a Gray Divorce

For decades, gray divorce rates have been on the rise and not just in the U.S. National statistics in Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and India prove that gray divorce is consistently increasing globally as well. Researchers predict that in 2030, gray divorce rates will have tripled. So, why are adults aged 50 and older getting divorced?

  • Abuse. If either party suffers from physical, mental, or emotional abuse, they may decide to pursue a divorce. Having a controlling or demeaning partner
  • Addiction. If either spouse struggles with porn, alcohol, gambling, or substance abuse issues, their addiction can cause a strain on the marriage. Because of their addiction, they may waste marital funds, lie, or alienate their spouse, which can often lead to frustrations and divorce.
  • An increased desire for happiness. In the past, couples may have felt pressure to stay together regardless of how happy they were in their marriage. People, especially women, are also finding fulfillment outside of their families and marriages; thus, when couples grow apart or feel unhappy, they no longer feel the need to stick it out but choose to believe they will find more pleasure and contentment in their next stage of life.
  • Empty nest syndrome. As kids grow up and leave the nest (home), older couples may struggle to connect or adapt to life without their children in the home. Older couples may argue more, discover they no longer have a lot in common, or lose interest in things they previously enjoyed once their children leave, which can cause tension and lead to divorce.
  • Financial differences. Among the leading causes of divorce for couples of any age, money-related issues can often lead to a gray divorce. Whether they disagree on how to spend money, argue about lost investments, or disagree on their budget, older couples who aren’t on the same page financially may argue or feel unheard in their relationship, which can lead to divorce.
  • Growing apart or falling out of love. As people grow older, they change, which can sometimes mean they want different things out of life. As couples grow and change as individuals and together, they may grow apart or lose their spark.
  • Infidelity. After either party emotionally or physically cheats on their partner, their marriage may suffer because of the loss of trust and the betrayal.
  • Lack of intimacy. If either party doesn’t feel satisfied when it comes to physical or emotional intimacy and their partner refuses to try or compromise, they may file for divorce.
  • Less stigma. Today, there is less stigma surrounding divorce, which empowers many older couples (especially women) to file for divorce.
  • Predictability. Sometimes, older couples may settle into a routine. Doing the same day-to-day activities or having the same annual plans can make a couple’s relationship feel predictable or stagnant. If either party feels like their relationship lacks spontaneity, they consider divorce.

How Is Gray Divorce Different Than When You Divorce at a Young Age?

Gray divorces can be even more challenging than divorces involving younger couples because of the unique issues involved in these cases. Because many older couples have been together for such a long time, the division of property can be complicated as they may have a lot of marital and commingled assets. If you are involved in a gray divorce, there are also unique financial concerns, including:

  • Dividing pension plans and retirement accounts
  • Losing access to healthcare through your spouse’s employer
  • Determining alimony, especially if you are in your retirement years
  • Finding affordable healthcare insurance (if you do not qualify for Medicare)

Moving On After a Gray Divorce

According to research by AARP, most gray divorces are initiated by women as they reportedly asked for a divorce in 66% of reported cases, while only 39% of men and 15% of couples jointly decided to end their marriage. Regardless of who initiated the divorce and why, you can still move forward with your life after divorce.

  • Retain a reliable divorce attorney. While you should take this step before or during your divorce, having a reliable attorney can help protect your financial future. During your divorce, you will have to make a lot of decisions that have an impact on your financial future, and your attorney can advise you concerning each decision’s legal and future implications.
  • Socialize. Whether you spend time with friends or family, you should avoid isolating yourself after your gray divorce.
  • Try new things. A part of learning to be happy again after your divorce is falling in love with yourself and finding out what you enjoy. To do both of those things, you can try new activities or take up a new hobby.
  • Prioritize your mental and physical health. Getting divorced affects you emotionally, and even after your divorce, you may struggle with feelings of loneliness, abandonment, nostalgia, or anger. Even if you initiated the divorce or the process was amicable, you can face difficult emotions, which can also impact your physical and overall health. Take time to healthily process your emotions and take care of yourself. Consider joining a support group or fitness group if you think you can benefit from processing or working out with others.

Our Firm Is Here to Help You Navigate This Difficult Time

At The Clark Law Firm, our attorneys have over 35 years of combined experience. If you or a loved one are getting divorced later in life, we are equipped to help you understand your legal options and protect your interests. Whether you file contested or uncontested, our team can work tirelessly to help achieve the best possible case outcome. While divorce can be scary and emotional, our attorneys are dedicated to helping you alleviate your stress by offering high-quality, compassionate counsel.

To schedule a case consultation and learn more about how we can help you, telephone (817) 435-4970 today or complete our online contact form.


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