Gray Divorce: What it is, Why People Do it, and How it is Negative 

There are many different forms of divorce, and everyone who does it— does so on their timeline. For reasons like these, family therapists and attorneys alike find themselves using the term gray divorce to describe a a certain type of legal separation. But what exactly does this mean? And what drives people to take this route, versus an easier one? While the people taking this route often do it for selfless reasons, it can actually be quite damaging to both them, and the people around them…

Gray Divorce: What it is, Why People Do it, and How it is Negative

First things First: What is a Gray Divorce?

Well, the name is actually quite telling. A gray divorce is a divorce between two people who are later in life. These are typically empty nesters with adult children and grandchildren. These divorcees will wait until their children are grown as a means of ‘protecting them’ from the sadness that is typically associated with children of divorce.

What’s different about this type of divorce?

There are actually quite a few things about gray divorce that make it different than your standard. For starters, there is typically estate planning happening, retired parties, social security benefits, more frequent health insurance usage— and these are really just the heavy hitters.

When you retire, you have a lot more benefits coming in, and you’re likely considering pulling from your retirement account to start using that to settle down for those later years. However, when you choose to separate, all of these benefits will have to be split and reevaluated. When it comes to benefits you’ve been sharing for the majority of a lifetime, that’s no easy feat.

Estate planning, in particular

One of the most difficult aspects of gray divorce is estate planning. For starters, it should be dealt with first and foremost. Estate planning, if you’re unfamiliar, is deciding what goes where in the event of death. Often, a couple will not think to adjust their will’s. In turn, after death, their ex-spouse will have control over all assets.

There is no right time for divorce

There’s no perfect time to separate. While we understand that you were making this decision to ease your family into the idea, it can be damaging to everyone involved. Staying in an unhappy marriage is bad for your health, and it also likely shows more than you believe. No one wants to put their children through a divorce. But, sometimes putting them through that divorce is much more manageable than letting them bear witness to a lifetime of miserable parents. Your needs are important too, even when you have children. So, consider the negatives and positives before choosing to wait ten more years… We wish you luck in this difficult time, and offer our services if you might need them.