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What do women need to know about gray divorce?

Although you may feel alone getting a divorce in your 50s or 60s, your experience is far from uncommon. “Gray divorce,” the popular term for divorce among the older crowd, happens more today than you might expect. You and other Californians who are divorcing at the same time you would be preparing for retirement should understand the unique challenges that come from ending a marriage later in life, especially for women.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the divorce rate for those 50 years and older has doubled since the 1990s. Why is this? You might feel more empowered today to stand up for yourself than in decades before when divorce was less common and it was the cultural norm to stay in unhappy marriages. After years of marriage, you and your spouse may simply have grown apart, especially after the children are out of the house and you have developed different hobbies and habits. You may also be able to support yourself on your own, as opposed to a time when women had few career options outside the home.

The increase in freedoms and options for taking charge of your own life does not mean you won’t have setbacks, however. Studies have shown that when married, 56 percent of women left the financial planning and investing to their husbands. In addition, 59 percent of divorcees and widows say they wish they had been more involved in their long-term financial planning. After a gray divorce, you may wonder where this leaves you in terms of gaining a portion of your ex’s retirement funds, life insurance and assets from a business you owned together.

You should not have to navigate the financial and emotional aspects of a gray divorce alone. Since the topic is complex, this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.

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