When people divorce in their 20s, 30s or even their 40s, they have plenty of time to rebuild their lives afterward. It is also easier to separate assets after a marriage that only lasts for a relatively short period of time. As people start to approach retirement age, divorce often becomes a much riskier prospect.
There are more challenges inherent in the “gray divorce” process, and many people have a harder time rebuilding afterward. Gray divorces that take place later in life often require careful planning and lengthy negotiations to resolve. Every family has unique concerns that divorcing spouses need to address as they seek a resolution. For example, the three considerations below are common complicating factors in gray divorces.
1. Housing challenges
The rental market and general real estate market are currently quite competitive, with prices up in many areas. Any adult living on a fixed income may struggle to cover their cost-of-living expenses when rental rates and property values surge upward.
Those trying to plan for financial stability after years of marriage may find that the current cost of housing will make it difficult to establish a separate home after the divorce. While they do have a potential right to home equity or to stay in the marital home, dividing the value of the home could make keeping the property a challenge for either spouse after retirement.
2. Retirement savings concerns
It takes decades to put aside enough money to support a household after people retire. Divorce not only costs money but also forces people to use the same amount of savings to support two separate households. Often, people will have a hard time negotiating fair ways to divide retirement savings and pensions after a long-lasting marriage.
3. Social disruption
Church members, adult children, grandchildren, neighbors and other members of a couple’s broader community may have a hard time adjusting to the news of the impending gray divorce. People may find that they have a harder time connecting with neutral social support when they have remained married for years and share most of their close relationships with their spouse.
Those who approach a gray divorce with an understanding of the complications they will likely encounter will likely have an easier time pushing for an appropriate outcome to the process. Overall, identifying and planning for common divorce challenges and seeking legal guidance can significantly benefit those preparing for the end of their marriages.