So-called gray divorces, or separations affecting people over the age of 50, have increased substantially in Virginia and across the country. While divorce isn’t always predictable, researchers and analysts have found common associations for divorce and underlying reasons that couples over 50 should be aware of.
The occurrence of gray divorces has doubled in the last 30 years; although, they are still much lower compared to the divorce rates of younger couples. Some researchers have attributed to the rise to changing social attitudes about divorce and increasing independence among women. A person may no longer feel like they must remain in a relationship that is no longer working out and probably hasn’t been working for many years.
Notably, research has debunked several common beliefs about the cause of gray divorce. One common idea was that couples remained married only long enough to see their children off to college and adulthood and then divorced soon after. Rather, the research points to financial interests and overall happiness in a relationship as key factors. For example, couples who collectively owned over $250,000 in assets were 38 percent less likely to get divorced compared to those who owned under $50,000. Remarriages were another key factor. Among all age groups, first marriages tend to be stronger than subsequent marriages, and this trend held true among those over 50.
A gray divorce can carry with it a variety of issues that may not impact younger spouses who separate. There tends to be greater financial complications and issues of asset division associated with a gray divorce. There will also be more marital history to consider. A gray divorce is a possibility for many couples, and it is important to be prepared. A person considering a divorce may want to discuss their situation with an attorney.