Study: Gray Divorce Can Be More Emotionally Challenging

Posted on Apr 28, 2011
Divorces in late life, referred to by many as “gray divorce” or “silver divorce” are becoming increasingly common, and as more people divorce in their 50s and 60s, it is becoming clear that divorcing after middle age comes with a unique set of challenges and issues.

In the United States, the divorce rate of those over 50 has doubled in the last two decades. The reason? Researchers say that baby boomers are in better health for longer, starting second careers, and simply have different attitudes toward life than past generations.

However, divorce can take a heavy toll on older men and women. Many have been married for decades, and their lives are often entwined even more than younger married couples. Those who divorce in their 50s often share sets of friends, property, children, assets, retirement accounts – and don’t even recall what it was like to be single 25 or 35 years before. Returning to a single life – which may include a downsized lifestyle, a brand new dating world, and a possible reentry into the business world – can be intimidating.

The two most pressing issues for those facing a silver divorce: security and loneliness. Many have empty nests and adult children who have started their own lives. At the same time, they no longer have the luxury of someone to contribute to the household – both financially and in other ways.

However, many of those who have gone through a late-life divorce say that it simply took more time to re-gain their footing – and to realize that new doors had opened and that a new life is ahead.

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