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Some new reflections on gray divorce

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Gray Divorce |

We’ve certainly talked about gray divorces before. As we discussed in an earlier blog article, the term gray divorce “refers to an older couple (usually over 50) who decides to divorce.” We went on to explain at the time, “While these couples typically don’t have to be concerned with a parenting plan, as any children from the marriage are over 18, they can be complicated because of the assets they may have accumulated over the years.” 

But the face of gray divorce has changed a bit in the last few months with two very familiar faces: Bill and Melinda Gates. The couple announced they were divorcing earlier this year, and that’s been both a surprise and an occasion to educate people on some divorce topics, including gray divorce. 

CNN did a recent article that featured some interesting thoughts on the changing nature of gray divorces. Psychologist John Duffy, reflecting on marriages and why more older couples are deciding to get divorced, noted, “Years ago, the vast majority of my client couples who weren’t happy in their relationship chose to remain married out of convenience or routine, or even a sense of familiarity. Over the past few years, many are deliberately choosing to part ways. My client base mirrors the divorce rate for Americans 50 and over, which has doubled since 1990.” 

He went on to say, “One soon-to-be-divorced woman told me that she sees her life in chapters. And although she thought her current husband would be part of her life through all of them, she now wants to do some of the writing on her own, and perhaps, one day, with another partner. She means no harm to her husband, and wants to free him up to find true happiness in his next chapters as well.” 

The big change he’s noticed is that couples are tending more to evaluate their relationships in “real time” and taking note of what’s not fulfilling. “We have historically been tight-lipped around any dissatisfaction in marriage, often following the trope of complaining to same-sex friends about the problems in relationships: the lack of sex or connection, the boredom with the everyday, the annoying habits, the tightwad or the overspending spouse.” 

Also, with gray divorces more common, there’s not the “taboo” around splitting from a long-time spouse that there might have been earlier. And with people tending to live longer, that means that a 55-year-old can more realistically ask what their next thirty or even forty years might look like. 

At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we like to talk about the idea of working toward a happy post-divorce. Our experience in working with older couples divorcing makes us a go-to for couples who are looking to untie the knot after years or even decades of marriage. While many gray divorces don’t involve arrangements with children, some still do — especially for couples who got married a little later in life. 

And gray divorces typically come with asset allocation questions that younger couples divorcing don’t have. Whether your situation requires a financial professional to become part of your divorce team, or whether it’s more “by the book,” we can make that determination in your initial consultation — which goes beyond a “getting to know you” session and helps determine the best course of action for us to take on your behalf.