Considerations for a Gray Divorce

Baby Boomers have witnessed a lot of changes over their lifetimes. They’ve lived through the 1960s and 1970s, the Vietnam War, and the rise of feminism.

Unlike their parents’ generation, they have seen more and more women enter the workforce, and they’ve watched as some female CEOs have commanded a paycheck as big as their male counterparts.

Americans are living longer than ever before, the financial opportunities are open wide for both men and women, and in effect, the divorce rate for Baby Boomers has exploded since the early 1990s.

According to a study conducted by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin, sociologists at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate for Americans age 50 and older has doubled since 1990.

“At a time when divorce rates for other age groups has stabilized or dropped, fully one out of every four people experiencing divorce in the United States is 50 or older, and nearly one in 10 is 65 or older,” Brown says.

This late stage divorce has been coined “Gray Divorce,” and Al and Tipper Gore are perfect examples.

After four children and four decades of marriage, the Gores decided to file for divorce. Tipper denies that Al was boring or cheating on her, so one can only surmise that the pair “grew apart” over the years.

Why the explosion in Gray Divorce? For one, divorce is more socially acceptable than it was in generations past. Secondly, women are more financially independent; they no longer have to choose between being unhappily married and poverty.

What Baby Boomers Need to Consider

If you are a Baby Boomer who is considering divorce, keep the following in mind:

  • If you have been in a long-term marriage (one that lasted longer than 10 years), spousal support will likely be ordered and it may be set indefinitely.
  • Your spouse is entitled to half of the marital assets under California’s community property laws.
  • If you acquired your retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or an IRA during your marriage, your spouse is probably entitled to 50% of it.
  • You will have to decide what to do with the “family home,” which may need to be sold and split.
  • Second and subsequent marriages are more likely to end in divorce. If you fall in love and want to remarry, be sure to draw up a prenuptial agreement. You’ll want to consider adult children and possibly grandchildren on both sides.

If you are on the brink of a “Gray Divorce,” contact the Los Angeles divorce lawyers at Claery & Hammond, LLPfor a free consultation.