Couples have different values when it comes to defining a successful marriage. Some prioritize stability or financial achievement, while others may focus solely on “’til death do us part.” But as the golden years approach, more and more spouses are reconsidering spending the rest of their lives together.

Why Is Late-in-Life Divorce on the Rise?

Older Couple Arguing With EachotherMany reasons contribute to the decision to divorce later in life, sometimes called twilight divorce or gray divorce. Modern medicine and improved living conditions have led to longer lifespans, meaning people can reach retirement age and still live another 20 or 30 years.

Gray divorce can also be influenced by the following factors:


Retirement can be a big adjustment for both spouses. Couples who have seen each other for a few hours each night are suddenly spending every moment together, disrupting long-established routines. Leaving employment can also cause fear of not being needed, a loss of identity, or depression.

Economic independence

Fewer women rely on their husbands for financial security today than in previous years, allowing them to leave unhappy or unsatisfying marriages without suffering enormous losses.

Younger generations

The older generation may be taking its cues from the children who left the nest. Parents may be sympathetic when their children go through a divorce, or children may realize that one or both parents are unhappy.

Personal fulfillment

The culture of marriage has shifted in recent decades, focusing on the couple as separate people instead of one fused unit. Spouses may reevaluate their feelings and discover that they are happier alone or are sacrificing too much to stay in the marriage.

Why Mediation May Be Perfect for Late Divorce

Gray divorces are more likely to end amicably because partners have the maturity to recognize that it’s time to move on. Spouses who have known each other for decades typically aren't motivated by anger or a need to punish one another in divorce proceedings and can often part as friends.

Mediation may be the best choice for a twilight divorce if partners have:

Solid cooperation

Years of coordinating work schedules, doctor’s appointments, and child care can strengthen collaboration between long-term partners. These spouses’ reactions to problems are usually focused on developing a solution that works for everyone rather than a plan that benefits only themselves.

Adult children

Children in a gray divorce may be in their 20s or older, so these cases don’t require child support payments or custody issues.

No outstanding debt

Cars, loans, and family homes may already be paid off, making the division of shared debt much more manageable.

Concern about their estate plans

Divorce can have a significant impact on any wills and trusts created during the marriage. An attorney can revise your estate plan based on the decisions made in mediation, ensuring that the correct heirs inherit upon your passing.

The Help You Need During Divorce Mediation

Even if you and your spouse are on good terms, you should still have your own lawyer for divorce mediation. Some questions require careful consideration, and you may not be able to change your mind later.

For example, one partner may be reentering the job market after a long absence. It’s essential to negotiate the amount of spousal support or retirement income before your divorce is final. Suppose one spouse relies on the other’s health insurance. In that case, they may need to be officially removed from a shared benefits plan, update coverage options, or ensure that the cost of a new insurance plan is factored into the division of assets.

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we do everything we can to make separating from your spouse as easy as possible for you. Whether you need help filing for divorce or ensuring all of your assets have been accounted for, we can answer your questions and guide you through the process. Call us today at (425) 460-0550 to arrange a private consultation, or use our online contact form to have us get back to you.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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