What are the effects of gray divorce?

In the U.S., divorce rates have gone down. However, for one demographic, the trend of divorce has risen. Those in their senior years are ending their marriages, some that have lasted for decades, more than ever before, reveals the Pew Research Center.

The reasons for the increase are many, such as less stigma, better financial security and no more children in the home. Whatever the cause, gray divorce comes with many consequences you need to be aware of as you prepare.

Finances

The biggest effect is on your financial situation. After a long-term marriage, you are more likely to have many, complex assets to valuate and divide between you. Depending on your income level, you may have to enter the workforce if you previously stayed at home. The court may order spousal maintenance, which will be helpful if you are a recipient but something to factor into your budget if you are the payer.

Retirement funds are a significant focus of gray divorce. There can be tax consequences in dealing with these accounts, as well, so it is best to review all your options before making a decision on how to distribute them to eliminate penalties.

Health

Although you both agree to a divorce, you may still feel grief at the end of the process. Loneliness is another common feeling, especially when you are an empty-nester or elderly with many friends and family who have already passed away. It is important to stay socially active, find a support network and seek treatment if you experience depression and/or anxiety. 

The stress of divorce can also harm your physical health, making current medical conditions worse, says U.S. News and World Report. On the other hand, finally leaving an unhealthy or unsatisfactory marriage can boost your health and increase your longevity.

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