Here’s why ‘grey divorce’ is increasing and how to prepare

This article looks at why grey divorce is rising and what older Americans can do to prepare themselves.

Retirement is supposed to be a time when people are supposed to finally be able to relax and enjoy their golden years pursuing the activities they may not have been able to pursue while working. However, retirement can feel a lot less "golden" when two spouses who don't particularly like each other anymore may be about to spend a lot more time together. That may help explain why so-called "grey divorce" (i.e., divorce involving those aged 50 and over) has more than doubled since 1990, according to MarketWatch. Below is a look at some of the other reasons older people are striking out on their own and what some of the challenges grey divorcees face are.

Older Americans find their independence

Unfortunately, love doesn't always last forever. Given that life expectancies are rising and retirements are lasting longer, the prospect of spending retirement with somebody that one no longer loves begins to sound a lot less bearable to a lot of people. That has helped push the divorce rate for those aged 50 and over up 109 percent between 1990 and 2015. In fact, divorces for older Americans have been rising dramatically at a time when they have actually been declining for all other age groups.

Other reasons that "grey divorce" is on the rise include the fact that women are more likely to be working today (and are thus able to support themselves after a divorce) and because there is simply less social stigma surrounding divorce than in the past. Furthermore, many grey divorcees are actually on their second (or third) marriages, which are statistically much more likely to end in divorce than a first marriage.

What to do to prepare

While divorce later in life does offer the prospect of more independence and, for many, even greater happiness, it still presents its fair share of challenges. While child custody and child support issues are, fortunately, not usually an issue in "grey divorce," financial issues tend to be far more important, especially since those getting divorced may be already retired or are soon to be retired.

That is why anybody going through a divorce needs to be realistic about their finances. As CNBC reports, one challenge facing many going through a "grey divorce" is that typically one spouse will have handled most of the financial matters during the marriage. The other spouse will now have to educate themselves quickly on how to budget properly and on how to live within their means. Other financial issues that are also extremely important in a "grey divorce" include: whether holding onto the house is feasible or if downsizing is a better option, if there are any pensions or retirement funds that may have to be divided, and ensuring that beneficiaries in a will and insurance policies are updated.

Family law help

Divorce is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult when those getting divorced are also looking forward to a comfortable retirement. A family law attorney can help clients who are preparing for or going through a divorce understand what their legal options are and assist them with negotiating a settlement that sets them up for success in their post-divorce years.