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Understanding Gray Divorce

What is a “gray divorce”? A gray divorce is the term for a couple over the age of 50 getting divorced. “Gray” is a reference to gray hair. While the overall divorce rate has been consistent, divorce among older couples is on the rise. Why is this?

Why are Older Couples Getting Divorced?

Four common themes present themselves in gray divorce:

  • An unwillingness to settle;
  • Different expectations about retirement;
  • Having nothing in common; and
  • Disagreements about money.

An Unwillingness to Settle

People are living longer than ever. As a result, parties are less inclined to tolerate a bad marriage. Spouses know that they have time to meet someone new. More and more people are deciding they don’t need to settle for a mediocre marriage.

Different Expectations

Different people have different expectations about aging. Sometimes spouses disagree about retirement. One party may just want to stay home and enjoy the grandchildren. The other party may want to go on cruises and see the world. This incompatibility can lead to a divorce late in life, after retirement.

Growing Apart

Sometimes couples simply grow apart. After the children are gone, they realize they have little in common. In addition, after retirement, couples have more time to spend together. This may result in a realization that they no longer want to spend time with each other.

Money Disagreements

The parties may disagree on how to spend money. After retirement, the parties are likely living on a fixed income. One party may be more free spending while the other is a more conservative spender. This can result in serious tension and ultimately divorce.

What are the Potential Issues in a Gray Divorce?

Gray divorces present unique challenges requiring an experienced, qualified family law attorney.
The parties need to determine the value of non-marital and marital property. For example, if one party had a job prior to the marriage, how much of their pension is marital property? Did one of the parties own the home prior to the marriage? What about other retirement assets? In a gray divorce, it is difficult for a party to make up lost retirement benefits. If one of the parties received an inheritance, this can be a complicating factor. Generally, the inheritance is nonmarital property. However, if the assets are co-mingled with marital assets, the inheritance may become marital property.

If You are Considering Divorce

Gray divorces present their own unique challenges and Zachary D. Smith has the experience necessary to handle the special issues present in a gray divorce. For further information or to schedule a consultation with a reputable family law attorney in Cincinnati please contact the office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.


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