Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates

Gray divorce: Ending a marriage later in life

Once people recite their wedding vows, they may expect to live happily ever after. At least half of the marriages in the United States, however, end in divorce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many divorces occur later in life, after the age of 65 when children have moved out of the house and people have retired from their careers. In fact, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey recorded that in 2011, 15.4 percent of people over the age of 50 were divorced. This is a steady increase from the 11.8 percent that were reported in 2000. Why have instances of gray divorce increased through the years?

There are varying opinions as to why this is the case. Some believe that couples who have built their relationships and lives around their children have difficulties interacting with one another once the children have moved out of the house. Furthermore, couples who have lived within their career for decades may find they no longer have much in common with one another once they retire from the workforce.

Divorcing later in life comes with its own set of issues. Although couples may not have to deal with child custody and child support, as the children are older, they often have other financial matters, including division of retirement, stocks, property, 401k plans and pensions. One spouse may be forced to live on a limited income, or rejoin the workforce in order to make ends meet. Factors, such as alimony, may also be included in the divorce settlement. 

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  • SCBA | Santa Clara County Bar Association | EST 1917
  • State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization | Stephen W. Penn
  • Henry P. Collada Memorial Award 2012