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Are You Headed For A Gray Divorce? How To Prepare & Thrive

A 50 year old woman sits at a desk smiling while planning for a gray divorce
Divorce for people over the age of 50 brings special challenges particularly with regard to retirement plans.

If you're over 50 and thinking about getting a divorce, you're not alone.

The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled in the last 25 years, according to a report from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Why? The answer is complex but includes factors like financial security, health issues and changes in social norms. Divorce is difficult at any age but can be especially hard if you're dealing with an empty nest or retired early—and these days there are many more people who fall into that category due to longer lifespans and career changes.

Why have the divorce rates for people over 50 doubled in the last 25 years?

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, more than half of all marriages in America end in divorce. The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled in the last 25 years, and it's expected to continue rising.

So what's going on? According to experts, there are many reasons for this increase in gray divorces including:

  • Aging—As we age, our priorities change and we may find ourselves wanting different things from life than our spouses do. We might also have different needs or desires when it comes to care-giving responsibilities (e.g., taking care of elderly parents). In these situations, couples who don't communicate well or have other conflicts could end up growing apart instead of together.

  • Changes in life stage

  • It can often be difficult for older men and women whose children have moved out or divorced themselves but still live nearby; they may feel like they no longer fit into their families anymore because they're no longer needed as much financially or emotionally by their grown children.

If you're over 50, a significant portion of your financial security rests in your retirement savings and joint accounts.

Here's how you can prepare so you navigate what's next with financial clarity and confidence:

Educate Yourself About What's Next

You've already begun the process of education yourself by reading this post! Good for you. Your next step will be to book consultations with local family law attorneys and mediators. Those meetings will go a long way to get you answers about what to expect during the divorce process. Start thinking about the most pressing things you want clarity on.

Here are 8 questions to help you get the ball rolling about what to ask so you make the most of your time:

1. What percentage of your practice is family law/divorce?

2. What is your hourly rate?

3. Do you have a retainer fee?

4. How do you handle spouses who aren't getting along?

5. Do you help with parenting plans?

6. Do I live in a "no fault divorce" state?

7. How long does the average divorce last with you?

8. What divorce resources do you offer your clients?

Some people offer free consultations, so make sure to ask BEFORE booking.

You should have a list of specific questions about your financial realities moving forward and what to expect, so make sure you have access to all of your important account information. Download The Divorce Planner freebie 24 Questions To Ask A Divorce Attorney Or Mediator to help you get a jump on the process.

Going into those meeting with an understanding of your accounts, assets and debts will put you in the best position to make the most of your time. Check out this Get Organized digital bundle. The What To Gather worksheet and List Your Assets spreadsheet walk you through exactly what to get your hands on so you're in the best position to ask detailed questions about your situation.

Gather Up Your Financial Information And Revisit Your Retirement Plans Gray Divorce

First things first, understanding what your expenses and income are will give you the foundation to take your next steps with financial clarity. Having an accurate number of what your monthly budget is will put you in the position to negotiate with clarity, and plan for the financial changes divorce will bring.

If you don't have an up-to-date accounting of your situation, or if your spouse is the one who handles the money don't stress. This monthly budget calculator makes it easy to figure it out with line item prompts that cover every possible personal and living expense and, best of all, it does all the math for you!

Understand your entitlements when it comes to your and your spouse's retirement plans, investments, and any other joint savings. Track down any and all statement pertaining to bank accounts, pensions, 401k's, SEP Ira's, etc.

Your retirement plans might need to be adjusted. Make sure you're setting aside a sufficient amount for your retirement years. Meeting with a financial planner early in the divorce process can jump-start your new retirement plan and goals.

And Finally, Embrace Your New Life

Here are a few ways to embrace your post-divorce life:

Cultivate Self-Care: Prioritize your physical and mental well-being. Fitness, balanced nutrition, setting clear boundaries, and mindfulness activities like journaling or meditating promote healing.

Invest Time in Your Interests: Rediscover forgotten hobbies or explore new interests, as they can breathe fresh purpose and joy into your life. Take a class, or lead one!

Connect with New People: While it's important to rely on existing relationships for support, also seek new connections. This presents an opportunity to build enriching relationships based on your current phase of life. You can easily connect with others through planned activities in MeetUp or EventBright.

Engage in Travel: This is the time to explore. Whether it's a day trip or a voyage abroad, getting out into the world and experiencing other cultures is an unbeatable experience.

Volunteer: Giving back to the community can provide a sense of purpose and foster rewarding experiences.

Whether you are over 50 or otherwise, divorce presents a challenging journey. The Divorce Planner is here to empower you, support you and guide you every step of the way.

Want to take your next steps with confidence and financial clarity? Book a consultation with divorce prep coach Alex Beattie (a.k.a. The Divorce Planner) and we'll discuss where you are in the process, what you should be taking into consideration as you take your next steps, and more.

Don't forget to include these 6 Overlooked Expenses During Divorce as you educate yourself about what's next.


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