Older married couples are looked at as role models for maintaining a long, healthy relationship. That is why divorce among older people, sometimes referred to as grey divorce, is so upsetting to many. However, divorce among people in their 50s or older is a lot more common than one might think. It can also be a lot more challenging, depending on the circumstances.
Many of the same issues that cause younger couples to divorce also impact older couples. This includes cheating and affairs, which significantly diminish the trust between two people. While infidelity seems less likely the longer a couple is together, it is still a factor in the demise of many marriages, including those between older individuals. In the same respect, financial squabbles can also drive a serious rift between couples. Couples may differ in saving and spending goals, or one spouse may be more frivolous while the other is frugal.
Divorces are not always caused by misbehavior or mistreatment, however. Instead, a couple may simply grow apart over the years. Issues affecting the marriage may not become apparent until well after the children are out of the home and couples are nearing retirement. While in the past social stigma may have resulted in these marriages remaining intact, these days society as a whole is less critical of divorce.
While the causes of grey divorce are usually quite similar to the causes of divorce for other age groups, the challenges facing older couples are often much more complex. For example, spouses will need to decide how pensions and retirement plans should be divided. It can also be difficult to tell the difference between shared property and separate property after a couple has been together for many years. Decisions about life and health insurance are equally contentious, especially when one spouse has been un- or underemployed for the majority of the marriage and relies on the other spouse’s employer for insurance.