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Prominent couples highlight trend of increase in “gray” divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2021 | Divorce

In New York and across the United States, divorce is an everyday occurrence. In many instances, it is a couple that is relatively young or had a short-term marriage and decided they would part ways and move on. A growing trend, however, is a divorce involving older people who have been married for a long time. Frequently called a “gray” divorce, these couples are the type who were expected to stay together. In truth, more and more people 50 and older are getting divorced. For those in this age range, there are lessons that can be learned from a prominent couple’s gray divorce and they can serve the parties well as they strive to move forward.

Key points about gray divorce

The most recent public couple that has announced they are divorcing are Dell Curry and his wife Sonya. While Mr. Curry played in the National Basketball Association, he and Mrs. Curry have gained fame in recent years through their son, the NBA superstar Steph Curry. Their divorce is the third gray divorce of public figures in the past year joining Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos and Bill and Melinda Gates. Looking at the stated reasons as to why these couples chose to divorce can shed light on some of the challenges faced by people who have been married for an extended period. The Currys claimed infidelity. That is also the rumored catalyst for the Bezos’ divorce. Still, there are many reasons why a couple might end a long-term marriage as they are heading toward retirement age.

People are living longer and have more options in terms of employment today than they did in the past. This is especially true for women. Whereas women were once limited in what types of jobs they could get, the gap has lessened notably not just in employment opportunities but in wages. It is not necessary to stay in an unhappy marriage because of finances. As people grow older and their children leave the nest, they realize that they might live for two or three more decades and decide that they want to try and find happiness and satisfaction that eluded them in the latter portion of their marriage.

Statistics show that gray divorce is on the rise

Statistically, Pew Research found that from 1990 to 2015, the divorce rate for people 50 and older doubled. This was simultaneous to the divorce rate in general declining. Another study found that around 25% of all divorces involved those 50 and older. Many were on their second or third marriage. This is significant because the rate of divorce for these couples is higher than for a first marriage. Society once looked questioningly at people who divorced. Now, that is no longer as much of an issue. Whether it is due to changing as they grow older, because of infidelity, unhappiness or simply growing apart, this should be factored in when people are considering their options even if they are in the age range where a divorce would be considered a gray divorce.

Gray divorce carries with it unique concerns

Common sources of discord with a gray divorce are property division and spousal support. Since children are likely older or already grown, child custody, child support and parenting time are not as much of a consideration. With the accumulation of property such as a home, collectibles, items of sentimental value, retirement accounts, bank accounts and more, this will be contentious as the divorce proceeds. Some cases also involve the request for support to maintain the lifestyle from the marriage or to provide for the receiving former spouse until there is the required education or work experienced to self-support. In these cases, it is imperative to be aware of the challenges that might arise and to have professional assistance.