Gray Divorce – How Does Divorce Affect People Over the Age of 50 Years Old?


Gray divorces can put older Floridians in the financial red. The divorce rate for individuals over the age of 50 has doubled over the past two decades, and while other age groups have shown a decline in divorce, this age group continues to maintain or increase in more recent years. While the impact of minor children is less frequently occurring in these divorces, the financial impact of a “later in life” divorce can have substantial financial effects on the spouses in the State of Florida.

Considerations must be given to the intertwined finances of couples that have long term marriages, as well as the accumulation of assets and liabilities, health concerns, and a likelihood of permanent spousal support. The assets of these couples can be significant, and the need for an experienced Florida Family Law Attorney that can help to manage and lessen the financial impact of a divorce is essential to maintaining and maximizing the distribution of assets through a divorce.

In many situations, these couples have amassed significant retirement accounts, pensions, real estate, and other personal assets that should be itemized for proper allocation of assets to be determined marital and non-marital property, when evaluation equitable distribution in a divorce case.  Unfortunately, this information has not been fully or openly discussed by the spouses and requires that records from employers and banking institutions be directly subpoenaed from the source to avoid continued misinformation.

Further, Florida spousal alimony is another facet of gray divorces that is often a high conflict issue, where one spouse has stayed at home to raise the children and make the home, while the other has spent the entire marriage being the breadwinner. In these cases, it may seem as though, for the paying spouse that there is too much in jeopardy financially to divorce. On the other hand, for the receiving spouse who has devoted their life to the cultivation of a married life to be left in their later years to fend for themselves, this may seem like an endeavor that is just too uncertain to take the risk. Ultimately, however, there are some circumstances that are too untenable to continue in marriage, and the cause to split is too great too overlook, therefore, clients who are facing the reality of being single and considering alimony should speak to an experienced attorney who can help to guide them to make reasonable and realistic plans of what they can rely on moving forward.

Taking into account your health status and the medical needs of a spouse who upon divorce will have to obtain their own health and life insurance is another facet of gray divorce that younger age groups may not have to contemplate to the same degree. While in many cases, life insurance may already be a part of an older couple’s portfolio, then need to increase the amount of coverage to secure a spousal support award may prove far more expensive and more difficult to obtain due to changes in health history.

Finally, another unique consideration to a gray divorce is the factor of Social Security. These benefits can be collected by both a spouse and a divorced spouse, so long as the couple was married for ten years. In addition, for spouses that have stayed out of the workforce for significant time periods may find that they are reliant on the divorced spouse provisions of Social Security and would need to ensure that they are eligible under those factors by reviewing their case specifics facts with an experienced family law attorney.

When couples divorce later in life, the same emotional entanglements such as sharing holidays with children, still exist, and while they will eventually work themselves out, the reality is that at any age, divorce is one of the most life changing events that a person can go through. Having an attorney who understands the risks, the benefits, and has methods to help you through the process is essential to an overall positive outcome in moving forward.

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. is a law firm based in Jacksonville, Florida that handles Florida Family Law matters throughout North Florida.  Since 1957, the attorneys at Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. have been in the community and On Your Side – At Your Side.  Get our free family law book titled –  Florida Family Law – Enforcing Your Legal Rights & Rebuilding Your Life.  

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