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Divorces come in all shapes, sizes,/ and demographics; and one of the most common types popping up today is referred to as a ‘gray divorce’. A gray divorce is referring to couples over the age of 50, typically empty nesters, who find it to be an appropriate time to part ways. But for many people aware of this, the question is: why now? Why after all this time? Well, for anyone going through a divorce, this is a loaded question.

Gray Divorce: Why now and What’s the Difference?

Why now?

For many older couples considering a divorce, now is a better time than any. Oftentimes a couple who is on the rocks will make the joint decision to stay together for their kids. Say your child is halfway through high school, planning for college— many couples will make a conscious decision to not disrupt the flow of things. They put their problems aside, and do it for the family— putting off their eventual parting.

Therefore, when the nest is empty and the child is settling into their own life— the parents will deem this an appropriate time to part ways. This type of divorce is also common amongst retirees. It is not uncommon that you both have been working for a majority of your life and have spent the time apart. But now, you are both together 24/7, and maybe your lifestyles just don’t match up anymore.

Another instance might be that one spouse has a sickness, they are expecting a grand child, or they have not both been financially stable earlier in life. This is why a gray divorce becomes so common— it is much more common that an older couple will each have their finances in order enough to make such a decision.

Why is it different?

This type of divorce is different because there are a few more things to consider. From estate planning, retirement, health insurance, social security— there are a a few heavy-hitting implications to consider for these couples. Early withdrawal from retirement often includes penalties. Social security might have been based on a spouses income. Health insurance is usually based upon both parties and must be split. Because of health insurance in particular, some couples choose to ‘legally separate’ instead of doing the whole shebang.

Estate planning in particular is the tricky one. These should be the priority, first and foremost, in the event that one spouse is to pass away. Often, a couple will not think to readjust their will and then when faced with an untimely death— the former spouse will have control over all assets.