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Gray Divorce in Orlando: Navigating Divorce Later in Life

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What Is a Gray Divorce?

The term “gray divorce” refers to divorce later in life that occurs among couples over the age of 50. Older adults in long-term marriages are the one segment of the U.S. population in which divorce rates are increasing, while rates have flattened or declined in other age groups. Most people who fall into the gray divorce category have been married for 20 to 30 years. Couples going through a gray divorce should be aware of critical legal and financial issues.

How Common Is Gray Divorce?

Divorce rates among older adults are on the rise. As stated in a report by the United States Census Bureau, the divorce rate for 65- to 74-year-olds is 39%. For adults ages 75 and older, the rate is 24%. The national divorce trend among men and women ages 50 and older has risen since the 1990s – in fact, the rate since 1990 has roughly doubled. In 2015, 10 out of every 1,000 married people ages 50 and older divorced – an increase from five out of 1,000 in 1990. The divorce rate among Americans ages 65 and older has roughly tripled to six divorces per 1,000 married people in 2015.

Why Are Divorce Rates Rising Among Older Adults?

The phenomenon of increasing divorce rates among people ages 50 and older has been named the “gray divorce revolution.” Many circumstances underlie the rise in gray divorce since the 1990s, including the following:

  • Life expectancy has increased, women have become more financially independent, attitudes about marriage have shifted, and divorce has become more socially acceptable.
  • Couples who have been married for decades and grown apart have become more willing to face their differences and acknowledge dissatisfaction with their relationships.
  • As adult children leave home, parents left with an “empty nest” may wonder what they have in common with their spouses.
  • Addiction, infidelity, or financial betrayal may contribute to the decision to divorce.
  • Baby Boomers, the first generation to divorce and remarry in large numbers in their younger days, have now joined the older adult population.

What Are the Challenges of Gray Divorce in Orlando?

Divorce later in life can be emotionally and financially traumatic. Once the marriage is dissolved, individuals face life on their own after many years of sharing experiences, memories, children, and even grandchildren with each other. Financial challenges of divorce later in life can also be significant. They may involve:

  • Income limitations: Dividing assets between the spouses can strike a financial blow for both parties. It can be even more difficult to rebuild when you no longer have decades of work ahead of you. A spouse who has been out of the workforce for some time, for example, homemaking or caring for children or grandchildren, may not have the same earning potential he or she had earlier in life.
  • Social Security and retirement benefits: In Florida, marital property is subject to equitable distribution under the law. This includes retirement benefits. Social Security is a federal program that provides benefits to men and women who have worked and paid Social Security taxes, with eligibility beginning at age 62. If acquired during the marriage, a spouse’s Social Security benefits, 401(k), or other retirement benefits are considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution. If one spouse earned more than the other, their retirement benefits may be diminished in the split.
  • Health insurance: When a divorce becomes final, health insurance provided by a spouse through their employer terminates immediately. This can leave the uninsured spouse in a precarious situation. Health coverage is important for older adults. Medicare eligibility starts at 65. For a divorced person over the age of 50 but younger than 65, this could present a challenge.
  • Division of property: In Florida, all assets acquired, and all debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage are generally considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution. This means the assets and debts are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. It can be difficult for both spouses to have the joint assets they have worked a lifetime to acquire split between them.
  • Life insurance and estate planning: After a gray divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse who holds a life insurance policy to remove the other spouse as a beneficiary. Neither is it uncommon for a divorced person to make a new will, removing the former spouse and directing that the estate be distributed to other beneficiaries, such as adult children or grandchildren.
  • Tax consequences: If alimony is part of a gray divorce, it could have tax consequences for both spouses. The party receiving alimony is required to pay income tax on payments received, and the party paying alimony cannot claim it as a tax deduction. Division of assets in a divorce can also have tax implications for either spouse.

How Can an Experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney Help?

Divorce can be a challenging and complicated process, particularly after a long-term marriage later in life. At The Law Office of Erin Morse, we have extensive experience successfully handling all types of divorces. Our skilled legal team will do all we can to help you reach a fair settlement agreement with your spouse, but we are prepared to take your case to trial if necessary to protect your rights. If you are facing a gray divorce in Orlando, contact us today at (407) 743-6059.

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