Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Grey Divorce

Not all couples are happy just because they have stayed together for a significant length of time. Each year since I opened my law practice nearly 20 years ago, I have handled many cases involving divorcing couples who are older in age. National statistics support my observations. Researchers at Bowling Green State University found that the divorce rate for people over 50 years old has doubled in the last twenty years. The term “grey divorce” was first coined over 20 years ago, but gained some prominence as a phenomenon starting around 2004.

If you are older and thinking “Am I too old to get a divorce?” or if you feel you are somehow alone in the decision to end your marriage that age, the answer to both question is no. As the name implies, couples divorce when their hair is grey. Children are grown and out of the house. Typically these baby boomers married young and are choosing to separate for their gold years. It is extremely common that many people remain unhappily married “for the sake of the children,” but once the children are grown, one or both spouses are prepared to divorce. Other times, the spouses take a hard look at their lives as they enter this new chapter of life and realize that that they do not have much in common and they really do not want to spend the twilight years with the other spouse.

In recent years we’ve watched several celebrity couples go through a Grey divorce. Al and Tipper Gore divorced after 40 years of marriage. More recently Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlan called it quits after 30 years.

In recent years we’ve watched several celebrity couples go through a Grey divorce. Al and Tipper Gore divorced after 40 years of marriage. More recently Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlan called it quits after 30 years.

To a certain extent Hollywood has sensationalized the concept of grey divorce. There seems to be a stereotypical example of an older husband divorcing his wife to upgrade to a “newer model.” However, that actually is not how we see this play out in the real world. In the 50-64 year old age bracket, we are seeing many divorced women as the ones initiating divorce proceedings. And there are few reasons.

These women tend to wait until their children are older. Either consciously or unconsciously they want to stay in the marriage so their children growth up in an in-tact family. Once the children move out, they take a hard look at their husband and realize that that they do not have much in common and they really do not want to spend the twilight years with him.

Another reason for this trend, and why women are pulling the trigger, is that women have the financial resources to be out on their own. Women have the education and ability to build (if they have not already done so) substantial careers so they can support themselves. Gone are the days of women being financially dependent on a man.

If you find yourself as an empty nester with thoughts of divorce, you will be fine. You should find yourself an experienced divorce attorney who can help you negotiate the many aspects of a life you have shared for many years. The longevity in the marriage puts a unique set of circumstances on the division of your property and life which can greatly benefit from the compassionate eyes of a legal expert.