A gray divorce is a term used to describe a divorce case involving spouses over 50 years old. The terms “gray” and “grey” are used interchangeably when describing divorces involving baby boomers and elderly couples. 

Gray divorces appear to be on the rise. The United State Census reports that adults between the ages of 55 to 64 years old have the highest rate of divorce. 

Why Does Gray Divorce Happen in New Jersey?

Some couples have been married for 30 to 40 years or longer. Other couples might have married later in life but divorced after their 50th birthday. The causes of gray divorce vary but include reasons such as:

  • The spouses grow apart and begin living separate lives
  • A spouse is unfaithful by having a physical and/or emotional affair
  • Addiction and substance abuse
  • The couple struggles to adapt to life without children at home (i.e., Empty Nest Syndrome)
  • The spouses realize they have very different ideas about how they want to spend their retirement years
  • A desire for adventure, happiness, and fulfillment 
  • Lack of intimacy, including emotional closeness and sexual relations
  • Disagreements about finances, especially regarding estate planning and retirement plans
  • Abuse and domestic violence 

Many couples seeking gray divorces would have never thought to do so a few decades ago. They were raised with the belief that divorce was not an option. Instead, they “made the marriage work” and stayed in the marriage even if they were unhappy.

Today, there is not as much stigma about divorce. Divorces are much easier to obtain and less costly. 

Most states have a form of no-fault divorce, which allows a person to obtain a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. New Jersey’s no-fault divorce is based on the spouses being separated for at least 18 months. After the 18-month separation, either spouse can petition the court for a divorce.

New Jersey also has “fault” grounds for divorce. The petitioning spouse must prove the other spouse committed fault to obtain the divorce. Fault grounds in New Jersey include:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Incarceration
  • Extreme cruelty or domestic violence
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Deviant sexual conduct
  • Institutionalization of mental illness 

Each divorce case is unique, and couples face complex issues based on their specific situation. For example, a couple going through a gray divorce might not need to deal with child custody or child support. However, the couple might have substantial marital assets that could make property division more challenging. 

What Considerations Do Couples Filing for Gray Divorce Need To Consider?

Couples going through a gray divorce deal with the same issues younger couples face during a divorce. However, because of the couple’s age, duration of the marriage, and other factors, there could be unique problems that younger couples might not face. 

Retirement, Estate Planning, & Alimony

Couples 50 years and older may have significant retirement plans. They may also have extensive estate planning documents, including one or more trust agreements. The couple might have executed powers of attorney, health care directives, and HIPAA forms as part of their estate plan. 

Dividing retirement funds can be challenging, especially when one spouse does not work outside the home. One spouse might have fewer resources to support themselves after the divorce. If the person is close to retirement age, there might not be sufficient time to earn enough funds to retire.

Estate planning is another complex issue. Most couples leave everything to each other and then to their children. Without an inheritance, a person might not have sufficient funds to pay for care during their final years.

Alimony or spousal support is another issue in gray divorces. A spouse might need financial assistance to live on their own. However, if the other spouse is ready to retire, there might not be sufficient funds to support both parties. 

Property Division 

Decisions about property division are also challenging for a gray divorce. Decades of building a life together can mean collections, artwork, and sentimental items. Furthermore, an older couple is more likely to have real estate with substantial equity. 

Dividing assets can have emotional aspects in addition to financial implications. Therefore, couples must consider their future needs and resources when negotiating a property settlement agreement. Also, tax consequences and estate considerations impact property division settlements in gray divorces. 

It might be beneficial to consult tax professionals, estate planning attorneys, and retirement professionals for gray divorces. An experienced Bergen County divorce lawyer can help you takes steps to protect your best interests now and in the future. 

Self-Care Can Be a Problem in Gray Divorces 

Another common issue in gray divorces is taking care of yourself. 

Healthcare is a primary concern. Spouses could lose their health care coverage during a divorce. Obtaining a new health insurance policy could be expensive, and the coverage might not be as comprehensive. 

Additionally, couples might have the same circle of friends. Therefore, one spouse might become isolated or feel left out after the divorce. Therefore, spouses in gray divorces should protect their well-being by seeking counseling and treatment when necessary. 

An Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Protect Your Interests

Gray divorce can be scary, but you don’t have to go it alone. With the assistance of a seasoned divorce lawyer to help you throughout the process, you’ll be in a position to adequately protect your legal rights and interests.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400, Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States