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Gray divorce has doubled

Divorce is fairly common in the United States among all age groups but the rate of older couples getting divorced has doubled in the last 25 years. Also known as "gray divorce", divorces among those over 50 are happening in record numbers.

At its highest rate ever, it's not entirely known why gray divorce is increasing, but theories suggest that as people live longer, the thought of finishing out life with someone they no longer have anything in common with is unbearable. Additionally, there are fewer social stigmas surrounding divorce and it's become more acceptable to call it quits. Perhaps a marriage hasn't been happy in past years and more than ever, it's easier to end the bad relationship.

Divorce is complicated and stressful at any age as a couple untangles their assets, money and property. But in addition to stress, gray divorce can have some negative health and financial consequences.

Financial

Getting divorced later in life can be complicated and may leave you financially vulnerable. Not only are there more assets to divide but both spouses are accustomed to a certain standard of living - one that may be hard to maintain after the assets are divided in two. Deciding the terms of your settlement can be challenging. There is much more at stake and your retirement and financial plans will need to change.

  • When you divorce later in life, your retirement savings could take a hit at a time when you don't have much of a chance to make up the difference.
  • Those who divorce after 50 tend to have less wealth than those who stay married and 80 percent of divorced women live in poverty.

Health

Gray divorce can also bring health concerns:

  • Anxiety, depression and stress are associated with divorce at any age but for older people, these can increase the chances for heart problems, insomnia, obesity and a change in activity.
  • Isolation and loneliness - getting divorced later in life can lead to lost connections and social interaction.

While there are negative consequences, as there are in any divorce, leaving a damaging relationship can also have benefits and bring new opportunities for happiness. The chance to start over may outweigh the negative consequences and knowing about them ahead of time can help you to take steps toward prevention.

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