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Silver Divorce: The Emotional Challenges for Divorcing Seniors


One study found that divorce rates for the elderly have been increasing between 1990 and 2010.

Divorce rates for couples over the age of 50 doubled and not all of them were second or third marriages. Almost half of those were first marriages. While this can be good news for divorce lawyers, divorcing as an older person can be particularly challenging. Property division can be hard fought, as many people’s retirements, real property, and assets they expected to carry with them into their twilight years become chess pieces. And while there is rarely a fight over child custody as the kids are grown, the children of a marriage can be one of the biggest emotional factors with divorcing seniors.

Although there is less of a need to protect adult children from the divorce, there is no need to attempt to win the kids over to your side. It is important even for divorcing partners with an empty nest to continue to co-parent. If they believe that sharing the events leading up to divorce or certain updates can help bring peace and resolution, then they should certainly do that. But as in any other kind of divorce, attempting to pit the kids against their parents will only backfire and result in a fractured and uncomfortable family.

One of the most common casualties of a divorcing couple is their other ‘coupled-up’ friends. Other married people might be their primary friendships, and these friends might feel they have to choose either the husband or the wife upon divorce. Inevitably, this will make the spouses feel alone and even betrayed as decades-long relationships go silent. Seniors in this situation must make a special effort to interact with others, which could include volunteering, picking up a new hobby, or even going back to school. These things can help keep seniors busy and meet new people. Dating can be daunting, but older people should not be afraid to jump back in the dating pool – after the divorce has been finalized, of course. Go in with an open-mind and a positive attitude, and even if you are not looking for anything serious, dating is a chance to broaden your friend base and get to know new people. This is especially true for older-men, who often have a smaller support network than women.

The uncertainty of your financial situation can be extremely stressful. What looked like a lot of money in the bank for your golden years looks less comfortable once it has been cut in half, as often happens upon dissolution. This can extend working years, depending on the size of the estate. Upon dissolution, it is important for each spouse to get serious about saving, including maximizing retirement contributions. Additionally, if the marriage was longer than 10 years, and the couple is older than 62, a former spouse’s benefits can be collected by their ex. This is a factor the court considers when awarding spousal support. Spousal support is almost always awarded in long-term marriages, especially if one spouse sacrificed growth in their career to care for the family and homestead, although it is usually only for a temporary time period. With life expectancies continuing to increase, financial ramifications upon divorce are understandably a major source of anxiety for silver divorcees. It is always a good idea to speak with a family law attorney when thinking about a divorce to find out how you will be able to best afford it. Obtaining a financial planner familiar with late-life divorce can go a long way in assuaging fears and concerns, and to help you develop a plan to ensure you are comfortable in your later years.

Getting a divorce over 50 can be absolutely terrifying. Feeling alone and isolated are some of the most-cited complaints about senior divorcees. However, the flip side to this is the liberation felt – there is no one to check finances with, no one to control your schedule, and no one else to clean up after! If you are facing a silver divorce, contact Rebecca Medina, your compassionate and dedicated Fresno and San Diego divorce lawyer.

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced Family Law attorney, mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer serving the Fresno and San Diego areas. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, QDROs and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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