Over the past 25 years, the divorce rate in Michigan and across the country for couples 25 to 39 has decreased by 21%, which some attribute to people getting older when they tie the knot and fewer millennial couples deciding to walk down the aisle than previous generations.

However, the Pew Research Center finds that since 1994, divorces among people ages 40 to 49 have increased by 14%, while the divorce rate has soared by 109% among couples 50 and older in so-called gray divorces.

What is fueling gray divorce?

Many theories exist over why older spouses choose to split later in life. Some experts point to empty-nest syndrome, changing priorities for both partners or just sheer boredom and growing apart.

Others say the financial independence for women is greater than at any other time, as is the availability of health care options for those who only had coverage through their spouse’s policy.

Financial impacts of divorce later in life

Whatever the reasons couples choose to end their marriages, they need to be aware of what divorce will mean to their financial well-being, including:

  • Dwindling income: Income for couples who divorce in their 50s, 60s and 70s is closing or may have already closed through retirement. Future income will be divided, including Social Security benefits for one or both spouses.
  • Property division: Older couples generally have more assets. In Michigan, marital property is divided according to equitable distribution, where both spouses will “fairly” share all assets and debts as determined by a court, resulting in potentially significant tax liabilities.
  • Living costs: In many cases, one spouse manages household finances for older couples. The uninvolved spouse must learn quickly how to devise a budget and understand what they can afford for housing, vehicles and other personal expenses.
  • Child custody: One advantage in most gray divorces is that kids have usually reached adulthood. However, in cases where minor children remain, child support and custody can affect retirement plans forcing some to work longer than they intended.

Protect your future with knowledgeable legal advice

Divorce at any point in a person’s life can cause emotional turmoil, especially over your future financial well-being. If you are over 50, the process can be even more devastating if a contentious atmosphere exists. An experienced and compassionate family law attorney here in Michigan can help you achieve the best possible outcome through a reasonable settlement or fight for you in court if necessary.