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How to prepare for a divorce that happens later in life

April 14, 2017

This article offers three pieces of advice for those considering divorcing later in life.

Divorcing later in life used to be considered taboo, but nowadays the divorce rate among people in their 50s and 60s is growing dramatically and, as such, so-called “gray divorce” has become much more socially acceptable. As US News & World Report points out, the divorce rate doubled among those aged 50 and up between 1990 and 2010. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that nearly half of gray divorces involve first marriages, meaning that many of the couples getting divorced later in life are coming out of long-term marriages. Ending a long-term marriage, especially later in life, brings up a number of important considerations, a few of which are discussed below.

Alimony and Support

One of the biggest financial considerations for those ending a long-term marriage will be alimony. Alimony payments, including “lifetime” alimony, tend to be much more common when a long-term marriage is coming to an end, especially if one spouse makes considerably less than the other spouse. At the same time, however, because most people who are divorcing in their 50s and 60s will no longer have any dependent children to raise, child support tends to be much less of a factor in gray divorces.

Pensions and Retirement Funds

As Forbes points out, divorcing close to or even during retirement will often lead to a serious reconsideration of one’s retirement plans. It is important to understand that most pensions and other retirement funds can be divided between both spouses after a divorce, regardless of whose name those pensions are actually in. While this could provide a much needed source of financial support for some people, for others it could see their retirement savings diminished substantially. In many cases, divorcing spouses may agree to trade pensions for alimony or vice versa, but this should only be done after understanding the important tax differences between these two sources of income.


Being single later in life will likely require some form of downsizing, especially in regards to the family home. Because a couple may have shared a home for decades, one or both spouses may feel an emotional attachment to the house. While it can be difficult to let go of the family home, it is also often dangerous to try to hold onto it no matter the cost. Not only is the house likely to be a serious financial burden for a single person to maintain, but the assets discussed above, such as alimony and pensions, may provide a more stable and beneficial source of income during retirement.

Matrimonial and Family law

Divorce is never an easy experience and it can feel all the more difficult for those who are approaching the end of their careers and preparing for retirement. Our attorneys at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC have vast experience handling all divorces and are always sensitive to the unique issues facing individuals divorcing later in life.

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