Gray Divorce Is On The Rise, But What Exactly Is It?

Explore the rising trend of gray divorce among individuals over 50. Uncovering the causes, implications, and navigating the challenges.
Friends, hug and happy volunteer people outdoor at a nature park in summer. Men and women diversity group for community service in green ngo tshirt for recycling, cleaning and a clean environment
There is a new term in town that has been doing rounds; “gray divorce”. Yes, it may look like one of those trending discussions on modern lifestyle but no. In this blog, we will explore gray divorce inside out, its implications as well as how we can make the best decisions while in this mess.

What does Gray Divorce mean?

Gray divorce refers to an emerging trend among older couples, often aged 50 and above who after many years of marriage decide to go their different ways. The name came into being when the baby boomer generation, notorious for molding social norms, arrived at this age bracket. Contrary to younger divorces which were mainly about child custody, gray divorces deal more with retirement funds, residential developments and other lifelong resources.

Gray Divorce Surge

Over the last thirty years especially though not only has grey divorce become more frequent; it has also reshaped our understanding of relationships in late life. Pew Research Center research shows that the rate of divorce among U.S. adults aged 50 and over roughly doubled since the 1990s. Even more dramatic is that for those aged 65 and over these rates have tripled during this time period. These numbers stand in sharp contrast to overall trends in divorce rates which have typically gone down with regards to younger populations.

Understanding The Numbers

To put this into perspective, we find out that there were ten divorces for every one thousand married people aged fifty and over in 2015. The rate was even lower for people who are still married when they are over 65; six out of every one thousand divorced (National Center For Family & Marriage Research). Although these figures might appear insignificant initially given they do not represent major changes in marital stability or individual choices later in life yet during times when husbands would die first ending a marriage was quite rare at any age.

Some Factors Influencing This Trend

Factors contributing to the rising rates of gray divorce include longer life expectancy, changing societal norms regarding marriage and personal fulfillment and increased financial independence among older women. Furthermore, as the concept of disgrace over divorce diminishes many more aged persons are finding courage to live satisfied lives, instead of sticking to such marriages which do not give them joy.

Demographic Shift

It is also important to note that this generation; baby boomers that have reached the age when they get involved in grey divorces have always had higher rates of divorcing than those who came before them. As this demographic continues aging, their dissolutions account for a significant portion of all cases found in gray divorce statistics.

A Global Phenomenon

While much of what we know about gray divorce comes from data collected within the U.S., it is not just an American happening. Other developed countries with aging populations and changing social norms, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan are also increasingly reporting later-life divorces. Therefore one is led to believe that there must be some factors causing these divorces at old age which have nothing to do with national boundaries but indicate a wider transition on view about marriages, getting older and individual freedom worldwide.

Looking Ahead

As we look ahead into our future it’s now clear that Gray Divorce will remain a significant social trend. With increasing populations in later life coupled with changes in societal attitudes towards marriage relationships and personal development in later years these figures can only increase or remain stable if not grow higher.

The Downside of Gray Divorce

Gray divorce however, isn’t all roses. There are very many people who are emotionally drained and so lonely after a very long time in marriage as they now have to figure out what life looks like when you’re single again after being in partnership for many years. Also, gray divorce can be highly expensive. Dividing assets acquired over such a long period of time can be complicated and it might greatly affect the financial security of each individual involved. For insights into, and assistance with these predicaments, DivorcePlus has developed a range of services aimed at providing support to divorcing individuals.

The Cost of Money

Is grey divorce financially crippling? Yes indeed. A decade or more of pooling resources together could drastically alter one’s financial situation once those assets are divided, retirement plans split and one starts living on just one salary thereby forcing them to return to work or drastically change their lifestyle. If you’re worried about your economic future after getting divorced then we have got you covered with experts like Jamie Lima, a certified divorce financial analyst, to help you understand and navigate the financial landscape during separation from your spouse.

How It Impacts Adult Children

Though adult children may seem untouched by their parents’ break-up, this is not the case in reality. Gray divorce upsets family dynamics leading adult children into emotional turmoil as they may feel caught between mother and father. They may also fear for each parent’s welfare which only adds onto their worries. With regard to families embarking on this journey, involving a divorce life coach provides vital direction and helpful tips.

Surviving Gray Divorce

Resilience and support networks are key components in surviving—and even thriving—after going through gray divorce self-care practices, rediscovering what makes us happy and confidants’ professional advice would be major steps towards leading a fulfilling life once more. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends or family, reach out to professionals, and do a deep dive into a self discovery journey. If you are considering going through a gray divorce, it is important to approach the situation with extreme care. Here are some tips:

Enlist Professional Assistance:

Finding a divorce coach like Eddie Hammett who specializes in gray divorces can provide emotional support and guidance through this challenging time. Legal and financial advisors can help navigate the complexities of dividing assets and planning for a secure future.

Keep Communication Open:

If possible, keep lines of communication open and respectful between yourself and your spouse. This will make the transition easier for both parties involved.

Put Yourself First:

It is important that you take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Engaging in activities that bring joy into your life while also seeking support from your friends as well as family could be helpful.

Start Planning Ahead:

Re-evaluate what you want out of life. Your new chapter might involve retirement plans, lifestyle adjustments or even new hobbies or careers. Consider meeting with a life coach to talk about a shift to what you really want.


Gray divorce tends to be on the increase indicating deeper changes within societal norms as well as personal expectations about happiness and fulfillment at older ages. Although it has its own fair share of difficulties-be they emotional or financial-it allows for fresh starts, personal growth opportunities too. Gray divorce nuances starting from its effect on money matters down to how one moves forward should never be disregarded by whichever person choosing this path. When someone goes through a gray divorce, remember, there is hope. Resources such as DivorcePlus and Divorce 101 can provide invaluable assistance during this difficult period ensuring that individuals emerge stronger on the other side.

Eddie Hammett is a Master Certified Coach offering personalized coaching programs and is currently a coach in residence in a senior adult living community in Greenville, SC supporting the graying community through a variety of life challenges, transitions and opportunities.

Recent Divorce 101 Articles
DivorcePlus Decorative Image - Child Custody Is 5050 Really All About Money

Child Custody: Is 50/50 Really All About Money?

Is 50/50 custody worth it? Explore its benefits, understand child support implications, and get expert guidance with round-the-clock services. Access parenting coordinators, free expert articles, and 24-hour support to ensure your child’s best interests are prioritized.

Read More »