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The emotional and financial fallout of ‘gray divorce’

by | Sep 28, 2022 | Divorce


Divorce rates in the country have been slowly falling over the past decade in all but one category: Couples aged 50 and over. So-called “gray divorce” rates are increasing and while divorce almost never ends in one’s emotional and financial situations improving, gray divorce can be especially punishing.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering, or amid, a gray divorce:

Your standard of living will go down significantly

Divorce at any age will reduce your standard of living because you no longer have someone around to split expenses. But for people over 50, the drop can be jarring.

Women take a particularly hard financial hit during a gray divorce. Sometimes, going back to work will be necessary. But while ageism in hiring is illegal, it is nevertheless widespread, particularly in corporate settings. More than a quarter of women over the age of 63 find themselves living in poverty after a gray divorce.

There are, however, two possible safety nets. One is spousal support, which is commonly granted after a long-term marriage. If you feel you’re entitled to financial support from your ex, consult an attorney. The other is Social Security benefits through your ex-spouse’s record, thought this only applies if your marriage lasted longer than 10 years.

Be mindful of depression

By some accounts, the depression rate for gray divorcees is greater than that of people whose spouse has died. Post-divorce depression can linger for years. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about your mental health.

Adult children may be affected

Just because they’re adults, doesn’t mean children won’t be affected by their parents getting divorced. This is particularly true if you are financially supporting your children in some way. This arrangement will almost definitely need to be adjusted.

Consider dating

The prospect of “gray dating” may feel bleak, but don’t completely disregard it. It will force you to get out of the house and socialize, thereby reducing loneliness, and if magic strikes you may eventually find someone to split the bills with again.

Once again, women get the short end of the stick. Statistically speaking, women live longer and men of similar age look to date younger women, leaving women of a certain age a disappointingly small pool of potential romantic partners.

Gray divorce is unquestionably challenging, but it doesn’t mean you should have to suffer unnecessarily. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, whether it be friends, family or your doctor. We live in an age of limitless options. Go out and find them.