The divorce rate in Florida and around the country has hovered around 50% for several decades, but the number of divorces involving married couples over the age of 50 has risen sharply and continues to rise. Only one in 10 divorces involved an older couple in 1990, but that percentage has since dramatically risen. This trend is worrying experts because the consequences of what are known as gray divorces can be severe. Older people who divorce often struggle financially, and many of them also develop psychological or health issues.
Adjusting to living alone after sharing a home with somebody else for years or even decades is difficult, and people who have been married for a long time often fall into depression when their wife or husband dies. However, it is even more common among the recently divorced that it is among the recently widowed according to a study conducted by researchers from Bowling Green State University. The study also reveals that recently divorced older people often gain weight and encounter medical problems like elevated blood pressure.
However, the financial consequences of ending a marriage later in life have experts even more concerned. The BGSU researchers discovered that a gray divorce can reduce household wealth by up to 50% at a time when saving for retirement should be a fiscal priority. People who have sacrificed careers to raise families can find recovering financially from a gray divorce particularly difficult.
The timing of a gray divorce can have a profound influence on the ongoing financial security of the people involved because of the rules regarding Social Security benefits. Experienced family law attorneys may explain to older clients who are thinking of ending their marriages that they will only be able to receive benefits based on their husband or wife's contributions if they have been married for at least 10 years. Attorneys could also ask financial and retirement planners to help them develop a property division and alimony strategy that will leave older clients financially secure following a divorce.