Divorces for couples over the age of 50, also known as gray divorces, have grown significantly in the past three decades. In the 1990s, 10% of older couples filed for divorce, while today, one out of every four choose to end their marriage.

Divorce is emotionally challenging at any age, but especially for those who are older and have spent many years sharing good times as well as bad, and most have extensive families, including children and grandchildren.

Financial concerns in a gray divorce

Despite the intense emotions, the process can also be financially traumatic unless both spouses are prepared. Some of the main challenges include:

  • Dividing assets: California is a community property state, meaning both spouses own all income, debt and property acquired during the marriage and are usually divided equally by a judge.
  • Retirement and Social Security: Pensions, 401(k)s and Social Security benefits earned during the marriage are also considered marital property to be divided equally upon divorce. If one spouse has been the primary earner, benefits may not be enough to cover both households.
  • Health insurance: Unemployed spouses who are not eligible for Medicare lose health insurance benefits provided by their former partner immediately when a divorce is finalized, potentially creating an enormous financial challenge for the uninsured spouse.
  • Impact on adult children: Most couples who experience gray divorce have grown children, whose lives are emotionally affected as they may try to save the marriage, or side with one parent, causing estrangement from the other. However, in many cases, parents rely on financial support from children after divorce.

Recovering from gray divorce

Ending a marriage after many years together can present unique and complicated challenges for both spouses. An experienced and compassionate family law attorney here in California can help you resolve those challenges and work to help you achieve a favorable outcome.