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Are You Headed for a “Grey” Divorce?

Divorce at any age can be emotionally exhausting and financially devastating. If you have been married for decades and are near or in your retirement years, every aspect of a divorce may be more impactful. While “grey” divorces were once relatively rare, they are now quite common. If you are headed for a grey divorce, a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael |divorce attorney Hornsby offers some insight into what you should expect from the process. 

What Is a “Grey” Divorce?

After climbing significantly for decades, the overall divorce rate in the United States has leveled off and appears to be declining slightly in recent years. For one demographic, however, the divorce rate continues to increase. Older people (50+) now makes up over a quarter of all divorces in the U.S. and 1 in 10 divorces involves someone aged 65 or older. An April 2021 report released by the U.S. Census Department indicates that 34.9 percent of all Americans who got divorced in the previous calendar year were aged 55 or older, accounting for more than twice the rate of any other age group. The noticeable increase in older divorces is what led researchers to coin the phrase “grey divorce.”

Why Are Grey Divorces on the Rise?

While it is difficult to know precisely why grey divorces are rising while other demographic groups are seeing a decline in the divorce rate, academics and researchers point to some likely factors:

  • The spouses have grown apart. For some couples, spending decades together creates an unbreakable bond while other couples grow slowly but consistently apart.
  • The children are now adults. After being married for 20+ years, the kids may all be adults and some couples are no longer held together by the common goal of parenting.
  • The stigma of divorce has been removed. When today’s Baby Boomers were born there was a clear and omnipresent stigma surrounding divorce. Today, that stigma no longer exists.
  • People have a longer life expectancy. People today can look forward to living decades longer (on average) than they would have a century ago. That means a 50-year-old can realistically hope to find true happiness after divorce.

How Is a Grey Divorce Different from Other Divorces?

While the basic procedural aspects of a grey divorce are the same as those for any divorce, there are some things that make grey divorces different, including:

  • Retirement issues. Couples contemplating a grey divorce are near retirement age or already comfortably in retirement. This can complicate the division of assets because both parties are likely to be dependent on retirement accounts, pensions, and other assets saved for retirement.
  • Income disparity. Although women in the Baby Boomer generation are more likely to have entered the workforce than the women who came before them, the husband remained likely to be the primary breadwinner. The income disparity coupled with the length of the marriage dramatically increases the likelihood that spousal support will be an issue.
  • Marital residence. Disputes are common enough in any divorce over the marital residence; however, in a grey divorce, both parties may have an emotional attachment to the marital home if they lived there for many years and/or raised children there. This increases the chances of a dispute over who will remain in the home when it comes time for a divorce.
  • Children and grandchildren. People often overlook the impact a divorce can have on adult children and/or grandchildren – but the impact does occur. For older couples deciding to divorce, the impact on generations of children and grandchildren can be emotionally complicated and heart-wrenching.

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer

If you have additional questions about a “grey” divorce in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael