Gray Divorce: Planning for Separate Retirements

The number of “gray divorces” among baby boomers is soaring but what many may fail to consider is the financial hit separating couples can take on their retirement resources.

The number of divorces over the age of 65 have nearly tripled since 1990 in the United States.  Older adults are living longer and healthier lives and many decide that with children grown and many good years ahead of them, they are not willing to remain in an unhappy marriage.  The trend for 20 year plus marriages to dissolve later in life is no longer uncommon but divorce can take both an emotional and financial toll that may not be easy to bounce back from, especially in older age.

For divorced older adults there is less time to earn back lost retirement contributions or rebuild home equity if property is being sold to divide assets.  And lawyers fees can quickly add up if separating couples can’t agree on spousal support or division of assets.   Throw in an adult child who has moved back home after their own divorce or loss of job and the financial aspects of divorce nearing retirement age can quickly become overwhelming.

Rather than viewing marriage as a unwavering commitment to your spouse, despite how you have both changed and grown, today’s married couples are looking for happiness and fulfillment.   Once children are grown and careers built, many older couples look at each other and think, “Is this the person I want to spend the next 20 or more years with?”    An many women, no longer financially dependent on a husband to support them, are initiating divorce later in life without the same concern over the social stigma divorce once held.

But are some older adults rushing into divorce without fully understanding how it will affect their retirement picture?  Can couples who have grown apart over the years reconnect as empty-nesters?  With 67 per cent of second marriages ending in divorce, it might be worth the time (or therapy) to find out.

To learn more about divorce in older age, take a look for a growing number of resources including the book Divorce after 50:  Your Guide to the Unique Legal and Financial Challenges by Austin, Texas Family Attorney Janice Green.  Available online at .   Or check out the National Center for Family and Marriage Research by following this link.