Divorce affects couples in all age groups. In the past, fewer older couples would have considered divorce, but data collected over the last two decades has shown that older age groups are seeing a significant increase in divorce rates. The studies about gray divorce are done on a national level and are not specific to couples in New York, though it is likely that divorce rates among older couples in the state are also seeing this shift from life-long marriages to those choosing to start fresh in their retirement years.
According to a study conducted at a leading university, the number of divorces for couples ages 50 and older has doubled since 1990. On the other hand, divorce rates for younger couples, namely those in their 20s to mid-30s, has decreased. At first, this higher divorce rate was attributed to remarried older couples as, statistically speaking, remarriages tend to have a relatively high divorce rate. It has been found, however, that approximately 55 percent of these gray divorces occur between couples who have been married for 20 or more years.
So what is fueling this shift in divorce rates? Some claim that financial opportunities are more abundant, allowing each spouse to provide for themselves during retirement. While divorced retirees are shown to have less than their married counterparts, the desire for change seems to outweigh the loss in finances. Even though the gray divorce is big right now, it is expected to calm down in years to come. It is believed that younger individuals are becoming more selective about their marital partners, which may help reduce divorce rates in general.
New York couples nearing or in their retirement years will have very different concerns when working through divorce compared to younger couples. Much of these concerns are regarding the division of property and financial assets. Depending on the couple’s age at divorce, certain penalties may apply if financial accounts tapped into before a specific age is reached. These penalties can be avoided with proper documentation provided in a divorce decree. Assistance is available to ensure the legalities of dividing financial accounts are properly addressed and to secure a fair division of assets for both parties.
Source: The Washington Post, “Till Death Do Us Part? No way. Gray Divorce on the Rise”, Brigid Schulte, Oct. 8, 2014