This article provides a brief look at why grey divorce is rising and how older divorcees can prepare.
Nobody ever plans on getting divorced and even fewer people plan on getting divorced just as they are about to enter their long-awaited retirements. However, for many people divorce during or just before retirement is becoming a reality. As the Globe and Mail reports, so-called ‘grey divorces,’ which include divorces involving at least one spouse who is 55 years of age or over, has been on the rise in Canada and is expected to increase in the coming years – even as divorce rates for younger couples either fall or hold steady. Divorce late in life can lead to a lot of anxiety, but with a little preparation and planning, those going through a grey divorce will be better positioned to weather what is otherwise an often tumultuous event.
Why grey divorce is rising
There are a lot of theories about why older people are divorcing in record numbers, but few firm answers. One theory is that divorce is simply far less taboo today than it was in the past, which has allowed people to end unhappy marriages that they may have otherwise felt obliged to stay in just a few short decades ago.
Another theory is that as women have become more financially independent in recent years, many of them are also feeling more confident to strike out on their own. Being able to support oneself after an unhappy marriage comes to an end is an option that is available to far more women today than was the case in the past.
While more older individuals are finding a degree of independence that would have been impossible to fathom in the recent past, it is important not to understate the fact that grey divorce still brings with it a number of financial risks. As CBC News notes, anybody going through a grey divorce will have to rethink their retirement plans. One’s retirement date, for example, may need to be pushed back in order to replenish one’s retirement funds. Also, pensions are often considered a part of the couple’s marital estate, meaning their value is subject to division. While it is often possible to hold onto the pension in exchange for giving up another asset, such decisions will have a profound impact on one’s retirement plans.
In any case, most people going through a grey divorce will probably have to downsize afterwards. Living single, after all, tends to be more expensive than living as a couple. While the prospect of increased expenses is certainly not welcome, for many people it can be a fair tradeoff in exchange for living a more independent and happier life.
Family law advice
Regardless of one’s age, it is important to get legal advice when thinking about a divorce. Ending a marriage is a major legal and financial decision and an experienced lawyer can help those going through a divorce understand what options they have and how best to protect their best interests both in the immediate and long-term future.