Financial considerations when going through a gray divorce

Some financial aspects, like inheritance and retirement, affect older couples more

Divorce rates for couples over 50 years of age are on the rise, according to Investopedia. The rise in 'gray divorce' has been attributed to a number of factors, including longer life expectancies and women nowadays being more financially independent than women of previous generations. However, older couples going through a divorce have a number of unique aspects to consider, not the least of which are financial ones. In fact, without proper planning and experienced legal counsel, the financial impact of a later-in-life divorce can be devastating.

Why money matters

Of course, divorce can be contentious and costly at any point in life, but for people who are at or approaching retirement age, the financial risks of divorce are especially high. Retirement savings may be split with an ex-spouse and people may end up having a lot less for retirement than they originally planned. Furthermore, there is likely to be a lot less time for older people to keep working in order to rebuild whatever savings were lost in the aftermath of a divorce.

Some problems may be made worse by hasty decisions made by a divorcing spouse. For example, many people going through a divorce will try to hold onto the family home for either financial or sentimental reasons. However, maintaining a family home after a divorce can be expensive and there is no guarantee that housing values will go up by the time a person decides to sell their home. For many people, forgoing the house and instead splitting the retirement savings makes far more financial sense.


Older spouses are far more likely to have been the beneficiaries of an inheritance during their marriage than younger spouses are. When going through a divorce, an older spouse may be concerned about whether their inheritance will have to be split with their soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Depending on the state you live in, when you received the inheritance, and other factors, inheritances are usually considered the property of the spouse who is the beneficiary of the inheritance, meaning they usually cannot be split between both spouses after a divorce. However, if the inheritance has been comingled in a joint bank account, for example, or the couple bought a large asset, such as a car, that is in both their names, then that inheritance may end up being divided between both spouses.

Legal counsel

The complex financial issues surrounding gray divorce are just a reminder of why it is so important for divorcing spouses to consult with a qualified family law attorney when considering a divorce. An experienced attorney can provide the expert advice and counsel spouses need when trying to protect their rights and interests during a divorce.