What is a Grey Divorce? 5 Things You Should Know About Separating in Later Life

Since 1990 the rate of the so-called ‘grey divorce’, involving couples who separate once past the age of 50, has doubled. Researchers predict that instances of grey divorces will triple by 2030. Many factors can contribute to a ‘grey divorce’, including finances, retirement and even ‘empty nest syndrome’. This means that separating later in life may not always be a straightforward process. We look at five of the most important factors to take into consideration when thinking about a ‘grey divorce’.

  1. Feelings of shame and worrying about judgement are normal, but so is divorce

In general terms, divorce is in decline. Data shows that between 2005 and 2015 there was a 28% fall in divorces in England and Wales. Older people, however, are bucking the trend. During that same period the number of men aged 65 and over divorcing in England and Wales rose by 23% while the number of women 65 and over divorcing increased by 38%. What does this tell us? That the so called ‘grey divorce’ isn’t that unusual after all. Many people experience feelings of anxiety and shame around divorce. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Plenty of other people in the same position are going through similar experiences. Help is available if you need it.

  1. Grey divorce may make things more difficult financially and socially

A divorce later in life can be quite different from undergoing the same process earlier in life. Your financial arrangements and commitments may be more complicated if you’ve been married for a long time. There may be ownership of multiple assets or businesses to be valued. Either party could have work bonuses, stock options and more financial matters. It may be the case that one or both partners have accrued a large pension during or prior to the marriage. During a divorce the court should take any pension rights into account. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this normally related to the total value of all pension rights, even if they were built up prior to the marriage. All of these factors may need to be considered when determining potential spousal support. There’s also the possibility that long-standing friendships and other relationships may be affected by your decision to separate.

  1. Divorce in later life could be an easier process

In some cases, a ‘grey divorce’ could actually be easier. A number of factors, from the age of children, to more secure financial situations and resilience built from life-experience can make a clean break in later life more straight forward. While every situation is different, at this stage you’re probably not in the thick of things, balancing childcare with a career and mortgage or rent payments. You are also less likely to meet judgement if divorcing later in life. Most people will accept that you have enough life experience to make the best decision for yourself.

  1. Things to consider before taking action

Self-reflection is important. Be very clear about why you’re thinking about a divorce and understand that your decision may affect other people. What do you hope to achieve, what are your best and worst case scenarios, and what could you gain or lose in the process? Understand how the process of a grey divorce may affect you and those around you financially and socially. Ultimately, it’s important to make the decision that’s best for you and those important to you. Speak to an expert to make sure that you understand the process and how it could impact your life. In some cases, counselling or therapy may be able to resolve some underlying issues, but it’s important to speak to a solicitor for expert advice and assistance throughout what can be a difficult process.

  1. Grey divorce; help is always available

Progression Solicitor’s friendly and pragmatic Family Law team can assist you in achieving a swift and cost-effective conclusion to your divorce or separation. We will support you through all areas of private law matters, including family access, financial, property and other assets.

If you would like any further advice in relation to divorcing or separating at any point in life, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01229 580956 or at info@progressionsolicitors.com. Discretion and privacy is always assured and our fixed fee initial consultations and guide to the costs involved in family law advice and services, ensure that you’ll always be aware of any costs from the start of the process.

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