Divorce Over 50: A Gray Divorce
Most divorces occur between spouses in their thirties on average. However, in the past several decades family law firms are seeing more and more divorce cases from those 50 or older. Interestingly enough, general divorce rates are decreasing, yet the rates among people over 50 are rising . They are rising so much they are earning the term “Gray Divorces”. What could explain this increase? How are divorce cases for older couples different than the average case?
One explanation for the increase of divorce rates of those over 50 is the gradual fading of the stereotype of divorces. The shame and guilt that historically surrounded separating from a partner is diminishing. People are coming around to the idea that most people know best when making big decisions, and that includes the decision to divorce. Additionally, no-fault divorce was only made legal about 50 years ago in one state, California . In the decades following that, more states adopted a no-fault divorce bill. If you are not familiar, no-fault divorce describes the idea that a person doesn’t have to prove that they need a divorce, whether it be proving unfaithfulness, neglect, or abuse. Instead, people can go forward with divorce because they want to be separated for whatever reason. So it was only a handful of decades ago that divorce was only granted to those who had the means to prove fault in court.
These are two explanations for why divorces for those over 50 are getting divorced. We know life is complex and there could be more factors to be explored in this matter. What we do know for sure is that divorces for couples over 50 have unique challenges. The nature of divorce is negotiation. When two people are married, they are in essence one person in the eyes of the law when it comes to assets, property, and ownerships. A couple that has been married for over 20 years is going to have more matters that need to be settled than a younger couple. This is all fairly easy to understand. Some of the more complicated challenges surrounding gray divorce include:
Alimony is often awarded after long-term marriages. Judges have the discretion to decide how much alimony to award. Some factors that influence their decision include :
- the length of your marriage
- your standard of living while you were married
- each parties contributions, both monetary and non-monetary, to the marital estate,
- your age
- the relative income of both parties
- the future financial prospects for each party
- health issues
Retirement Money, Social Security, and Life Insurance
It’s recommended that a financial analyst is consulted to address how divorce will impact plans and pensions.
The family home in a gray divorce usually has more sentimental value to the parties than in other divorce cases where they may have not been living in the shared home very long. The family house will have to be valued and the couple can choose to sell the home, or keep it. This may be a tough negotiation if the decision of who will continue to reside in the house cannot be agreed on. Following an agreement, if the house is going to be kept, the person keeping the home will have to be ready to take on that financial cost.
Wills & Estate Planning
Wills and estate plans will need to be updated and amended after a divorce. These amendments need to happen before and after the divorce process to ensure that a person has control over their assets at all times.
Divorce Consultations in Oakland, Macomb, and Livingston County
Our attorneys are available for free consultations for those in the Macomb, Oakland, and Livingston county areas of Michigan. If you need guidance from top family law attorneys, we would be happy to help you understand your rights and the next steps in divorce cases. Our offices are in Rochester and Brighton if you prefer an in-person consultation, but we can do over the phone at your convenience.