There’s an interesting social phenomenon taking place: In general, divorce rates have been going down, but divorce rates among seniors (those 65 and older) are steadily rising. Over a third of divorces are among people 50 and over. It’s predicted that the trend is likely to continue as the Baby Boomers and those in Generation X continue to age.
These so-called “gray divorces” can bring additional challenges that may not be immediately obvious, but they can also be very rewarding. Recently, Attorney Mia Poppe was interviewed by NBC News Daily on this issue. Here are some of her insights into the subject:
Why are gray divorces on the rise?
It comes down to a combination of factors. Divorce has become far more socially acceptable than it once was, so almost everybody knows someone else who has been there, and that makes it easier to consider the possibility.
People are also living longer, which means that many people nearing or in retirement who are in unhappy marriages are starting to think about how they want to spend the next 20, 30, or 40 years of their lives. They’re often looking for self-fulfillment. They are embracing the notion that it’s okay to “live their best lives” at any age, and that sometimes means stepping away from long-term marriages that are no longer satisfying.
Finally, women are much more financially independent than in the past, with their own incomes and retirement plans. That’s making it easier for them to walk away from marriages where they feel unappreciated, stifled or abused.
Are gray divorces more difficult than other divorces?
It’s not that they’re more difficult – they’re just different. Younger couples typically are focused on issues involving the children when they divorce, while gray divorces are typically focused on the financials. Attorney Poppe has some specific advice that can help:
- Get a financial planner: One of the first things you need to do is find out how much money you will have to live on as you age. That means understanding how support works (if applicable), how pensions need to be divided, what tax concerns you might need to address and more.
- Work on your mindset: Anybody going through a gray divorce needs to be conscious of the way that stress can affect them. It’s important to have a positive attitude about the future and see this divorce as an opportunity for personal growth rather than as a failure. Your mindset can directly affect your health and well-being on multiple levels, and that’s something to protect.
- Retool: It can be difficult to adjust to living on one income, especially as you approach retirement. This is an excellent time to start a second career, monetize a hobby or go back to school to pursue a passion.
It’s important to remember that divorce actually frees both halves of a couple to seek a happier life. In many cases, for example, older divorcing couples find that they end up renewing their relationships with their adult children and developing new relationships that bring them a lot of emotional fulfillment.
At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.