Divorce rates in California and around the country have not changed much in several decades, but the number of couples over the age of 50 choosing to end their marriages has risen sharply. Today, one in four divorces involves older spouses. In 1990, that figure was just one in 10. This trend shows no signs of slowing down, and it is raising concerns because people who end marriages after several decades often grapple with difficult emotional issues and sometimes face severe financial problems.

Living alone can be extremely hard for individuals who have spent many years sharing their days with somebody else, and it is not uncommon for people who have gone through a gray divorce to suffer from clinical depression. When researchers from Bowling Green State University looked into the consequences of divorcing later in life, they discovered that depression was more common among recent divorcees than it was among the recently widowed. In addition to psychological challenges, older divorcees may encounter health-related issues like weight gain and hypertension.

The financial fallout of a gray divorce has experts even more worried. The BGSU researchers concluded that older spouses can expect their household wealth to fall by up to 50% if they end their marriage, and this can leave them in a precarious financial position with retirement fast approaching. The adjustment can be especially hard for spouses who eschewed a career to raise a family.

Preparing thoroughly for spousal support and property division negotiations can be extremely important in gray divorce cases. As a result, experienced family law attorneys often enlist the help of financial planners to ensure that their clients have the information they need to make wise decisions.