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How Does a Gray Divorce Differ from a Normal Divorce?

Posted by David L. Clarke | Apr 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Divorcing couples over the age of 50 – a trend commonly referred to as “gray divorces” – are becoming more and more common across the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, from 1990 to 2015, the rate of gray divorces jumped from 5% to 10%. So what are real differences between normal and gray divorces? Below, we explain 4 of the most notable differences between the two.

1.Average Age and Length of Marriage

The average couple in the U.S. gets married around 30, and the marriage typically lasts about 8 years. In the case of a gray divorce, couples are older and have often been married to the same spouse for more than 20 years. They have grown children, sometimes even grandchildren, and are often divorcing as a result of:

  • Drifting apart
  • Empty-nest syndrome
  • Meeting someone new
  • Intimacy and romance issues
  • Lifestyle differences

Some of these reasons may seem similar to those of a younger couple, but others are the result of spending too many years with the same person. Many couples lose interest in each other, while others simply become depressed as a result of their children growing up. The reasons are often deep-rooted and more emotional than those of younger couples due to the length of time involved.

2.Assets Involved in the Divorce

The longer a couple is married, the more their finances, debts and other assets will be entangled. In the case of a gray divorce, combined assets may include multiple properties, businesses, or even retirement accounts. This typically results in a longer and more complicated divorce agreement. Oftentimes, older couples spend more time in litigation or experience greater difficulty splitting their assets than younger couples.

3.Social Security

Currently, you can begin collecting Social Security at the retirement age of 62, with access to full benefits at 66. If you are married to your spouse for over 10 years, you can collect a certain amount of Social Security upon your retirement age. Although no longer a spouse, if you were married long enough and your divorce has been finalized for a minimum of 2 years, you can still collect a certain amount of Social Security from your previous marriage. Even if your ex has remarried, you may collect spousal Social Security. As this is not a concern for those who are too young to be eligible for Social Security benefits, it is a unique situation for gray divorcees.

Learn more on the Social Security website.

4.Life and Health Insurance

Unlike younger couples, older couples may face issues with health and life insurance during divorce. A spouse can lose their health insurance policy should they divorce the main policy holder.  As there is a higher risk of illness, the loss of insurance can be financially detrimental for an older individual. As for life insurance, policies accrue value over time, meaning they are more valuable assets during a gray divorce. Between two spouses' policies, a divorce could mean negotiating hundreds of thousands of dollars in life insurance. This is difficult and complicated to handle without the help of a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.

Discuss Your Gray Divorce With Our Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney – (615) 796-6299

No matter your age, you should feel comfortable and secure with your divorce agreement. The Clarke Law Firm is here to help. Our Murfreesboro divorce lawyer, David L. Clarke, has worked on a number of gray divorce cases and has the knowledge to navigate the unique complexities that come along with it. He provides individual attention to your case and can help address your needs and concerns regarding your dissolution.

Contact our firm today: (615) 796-6299.

About the Author

David L. Clarke

As a Murfreesboro attorney, I handle criminal defense cases, personal injury cases, and divorce/child custody cases. I realize that when someone hires me for one these legal issues, they are going through one of the toughest times in their lives. When hired on your case, I will meet with you as o...


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