Special Considerations for Going Through Gray Divorce

Every divorce can present unique challenges and concerns. This is no less true for those divorcing later in life. “Gray divorce” — which generally refers to divorcing spouses who are over age 50 — requires dealing with impending retirement, rising health care costs and other special considerations.

Gray divorce is on the rise. Between 1990 and 2019, the rate of divorce for couples over 50 years old doubled, while the rate of divorce for those over 60 years old tripled. Whether motivated by the effect of children leaving home, the prospect of retirement or the desire for a change, divorce among older individuals is increasingly common.

Divorce later in life can be particularly complex because of the resources that couples may have invested into certain assets to prepare for retirement. For example, spouses may have paid off their home and anticipated that they would no longer have a mortgage, only to find that divorce requires that the house be sold or that the spouses need to split the cost of a second residence for the spouse that moves out. Retirement accounts can also become complicated to divide when they are primarily in one spouse’s name, perhaps because the other spouse chose to stay home or work a more flexible job. Poor decisions on these issues can result in a significantly lower standard of living for one or both spouses after divorce.

Gray divorce also requires an evaluation of each spouse’s available health insurance. This is particularly so for spouses who have not yet reached the age of eligibility for Medicare. If one spouse loses access to the other’s employer-based health insurance plan after a divorce, finding a similar replacement plan on the market at an older age can be difficult and expensive. Likewise, it may not be as easy to find a new job or employer who can offer an alternative health insurance option. The difficulty in replacing insurance combined with increased health care costs can make gray divorce expensive if either spouse does not have a plan.

If you are considering divorce and are over age 50, talk with a knowledgeable Arizona divorce attorney to get a better understanding of how divorce might impact your retirement goals, retirement assets, healthcare needs and future financial stability. An attorney can help you to anticipate the potential negative impact of divorce on your future plans and to think through the steps you will need to take in order to minimize that impact.

At Clark and Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona, we understand the special considerations faced by people divorcing at a later stage of life. For a free initial consultation, please call our office at 602-789-3497 or contact us online anytime.