How to Handle a Gray Divorce: What are the Challenges?

Naperville Divorce Attorneys

“Gray divorce,” or divorce between couples over the age of 50, is becoming an emerging trend in recent years. According to a study by Bowling State Green University, the divorce rate for those over fifty has doubled between 1990 and 2010. Deciding to divorce later in life presents some unique challenges for older couples, and it is important to understand the effects the decision may have on your finances, health, and happiness. If you and your partner are considering divorcing after many years together, contact an experienced divorce attorney to learn how to protect your assets, and to amicably resolve your differences to ensure the best possible outcome depending on your unique circumstances.

What Makes Divorces for Older Couples Different?

When a couple divorces, each party is entitled to a division of the marital property. When younger couples get divorced, they are less likely to have the accumulation of investments and accounts that older couples probably have. Older couples have likely been pooling their finances for years, presumably leaving them with handsome accounts, investments, and retirement funds. Upon divorce, all of this must be equitably divided between the parties. “Equitable” does not mean 50-50 in the eyes of the law, however, and the marital property will be allocated in accordance with a host of factors.


Particularly with the baby-boomer generation, it is possible that only one spouse was the breadwinner of the family, and the other spouse may have few marketable skills. Alternatively, the couple may already be retired, leaving neither party working during the divorce. Both situations require a division of assets proportionate to the standard of living the couple had been used to, the cost of completing education if the individuals are still of working age, and a comfortable amount of money to live off of. According to USA Today, the fact that so many older couples are choosing to divorce is causing some to postpone their retirement plans and work for longer lengths of time to accommodate the divorce settlement.

Health Care

One of the greatest challenges facing gray divorce couples is the cost of health care. When married, it is typical for both spouses to be on the same insurance plan, even if both individuals are working. Older couples may have the benefit of Medicaid or other governmental assistance programs, but health care costs should almost certainly be factored into a divorce settlement. This is especially true if one or both of the spouses has health issues present that require expensive treatments or long-term care. Failure to address these important issues during your divorce proceedings may lead to a gap in coverage or difficulty in obtaining reasonable new policies.

Taxes and Real Property

By switching from joint filings to single-status tax returns, you are already changing your tax bracket and likely taking a hit. Moreover, there may be tax consequences for buying out 401(k) or retirement funds to divide during the divorce proceedings or for selling and dividing the proceeds of real property. If you divorce and choose to buy a new home on your own, the tax repercussions are also something to think about when planning your financial future during a divorce. Though there are negative tax consequences from the onset of divorce, thinking about the consequences ahead of time will greatly improve your chances of obtaining a fair divorce settlement to help offset the future costs.

Naperville Divorce Attorneys

Regardless of age, divorce can be a stressful time that can significantly impact your financial future. At Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C., our experienced Naperville divorce attorneys can help you understand the consequences of a divorce on your finances and how best to protect your hard-earned assets. We can help you come up with an amicable plan to ensure that your divorce is finalized as expeditiously as possible. We take the time to explore all possible avenues of recovery for our clients to help ensure them a stable future. To learn more about how we can help you navigate this difficult time, contact us at (630) 756-5112.