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Specialty tag(s): Gray Divorce, Divorce

What Causes “Gray Divorce” Later in Life?: Reasons Why Older Couples Split

Esther R. Donald | August 16, 2023

middle aged woman with laptop at desk looking away from it

Nearly half of all marriages in the United States end in a divorce or separation, but one group in particular is divorcing at a higher rate than ever before: people who are 50 or older. When older adults divorce, it’s known as a gray divorce. Rates of gray divorce have been increasing for decades and show no signs of slowing down. But what causes gray divorce, and why are these divorces becoming more common?

The Most Common Reasons for Gray Divorce

Some gray divorce causes are the same reasons why younger couples divorce, such as addiction, abuse, or infidelity, but others are unique to couples who have been married for a long time. When couples seek a gray divorce, reasons most often include:

  • Empty Nest Syndrome: Some couples are so preoccupied with caring for their children that they don’t realize how much they’ve drifted apart from one another. Once their kids have grown up and left home, these couples have trouble adapting to a life and marriage without children. This struggle can lead to increased frustration and irreconcilable differences that may lead to divorce later in life.
  • Financial Disputes: Disagreements over finances are among the main reasons for gray divorce, as older couples have commonly acquired more wealth than younger couples. Financial disputes can take the form of arguments over investments, budgeting, or how best to spend retirement funds. No matter the specific reasoning, arguments over money can strain a relationship and very often lead to gray divorce.
  • Desire for a Happier Life: Married couples of the past often felt that they needed to remain in the marriage no matter how unhappy one or both parties were. Today, individuals are finding more fulfillment in life through hobbies, leisure, and work, making it easier for them to embrace life after divorce.
  • Individual Growth: People change as they age. They discover new passions, alter their priorities, and focus on different experiences. When these changes don’t align with your partner’s, it can sometimes be hard to maintain the spark you once felt.
  • Intimacy Issues: Whether emotional or physical, a lack of intimacy in a marriage can commonly lead to divorce.
  • Lack of Spontaneity: Older couples sometimes settle into a routine after being married for a long time. This repetitive day-to-day life can make a relationship feel stagnant and cause one or both individuals to consider divorce.

How Are Gray Divorce Issues Different?

In a gray divorce, issues to be resolved can be significantly more complex compared to the challenges faced by younger couples due to how long the couples have been together. Married couples considering a gray divorce have often built a life together, which can make dividing property, finances, and possessions considerably more complicated.

Issues unique to gray divorce include:

  • Division of retirement accounts and pension plans
  • Loss of health insurance
  • Alimony payments during retirement
  • Consideration of the needs of adult children
  • Relationships with extended family

Contact a Goranson Bain Ausley Gray Divorce Attorney Now

For people over 50 seeking a gray divorce, the reasons can vary, but the best solution is often the same. If you’re facing the possibility of a gray divorce in Texas, you’ll need a skilled attorney to guide you through the process and make it as painless as possible. At Goranson Bain Ausley, our highly skilled divorce lawyers have the experience necessary to handle the important matters of your case and secure you the future you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your legal consultation.

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