Gray Divorce: Divorce for “Seasoned Spouses”
While the term “gray divorce” may not be a term that many people have heard or know of, the fact of the matter is that gray divorces are on the rise. A gray divorce is a term referring to the demographic trend of divorce rates increasing for older aged couples, especially those in long-term marriages. […]
While the term “gray divorce” may not be a term that many people have heard or know of, the fact of the matter is that gray divorces are on the rise. A gray divorce is a term referring to the demographic trend of divorce rates increasing for older aged couples, especially those in long-term marriages. The trend has become more popular as statistics show, almost to the point of a commonality. Today, for the first time ever, more people over the age of 50 are divorced than widowed, while the total number of gray divorces has doubled since 1990.
This trend is happening more and more, but why? With many older men and older women living longer after completing their parenting responsibilities, they can now pursue their own dreams and aspirations, including new relationships in their “golden years.” Retirement and the free time that comes with retirement permits the elderly couple the opportunity to both focus on the quality of their relationship and/or the challenges associated therewith, with the “golden years” affording the elderly couple the opportunity to examine the quality of their relationship and to decide whether or not the continuation of their marriage is really what they both want. The elderly couple can accordingly jointly decide to work on their marriage, maintain an already healthy marriage, and/or proceed to separation and/or divorce without the costs and concerns associated with their needing to raise children, trying to establish themselves financially, and various other deterrents associated with pursuing these same things earlier in their marriage. It is easy to understand why gray divorces are on the rise in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere in the United States.
A “celebrity” example of a gray divorce is the case of former vice president and 2000 presidential candidate, Al Gore, and his ex-wife, Tipper Gore. According to a 2012 New York Times article, leaving the political life made it easier for Mr. and Mrs. Gore to separate. If the couple were still involved in politics, they may not have split up; marriage is seen as a plus for those pursuing political office in the US. Having already raised their children, once it was apparent that Al Gore would not be elected president, the Gores were free to pursue their independent lives as their priorities diverged. They could remain friends, pursue their unique interests and new relationships, and visit with their grandchildren without continuing their marriage. Their divorce, as with many gray divorces, was neither adversarial nor hurtful; it was simply a joint decision made by two people who no longer wished to be married to one another. The parties’ adult children and grandchildren were arguably beneficiaries, rather than victims, of their elderly parents’ decision to amicably end their marriage.
Accordingly, gray divorces can offer solutions rather than problems: they can actually help both the husband and the wife find more happiness in their golden years than either would have found had they stayed married. A gray divorce may accordingly be the best way to both improve an elderly couple’s relationship and plan for their respective retirements.
If you are considering filing for divorce in New Jersey, or if you have already started the divorce process, it is important for you to talk to a qualified NJ family law and divorce attorney. The experienced divorce lawyers at Davis & Mendelson can help you explore all of your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.