Gray Divorce

Gray Divorce: A Growing Trend in Florida

Florida has always been a place of choice for couples to live out their golden years, but lately the Sunshine State has become the new hot spot for recently divorced older singles. Older couples are divorcing in greater numbers than ever before, and the trend has generated the term gray divorce.

The term comes from a study conducted at Bowling Green State University that examines the rising divorce numbers among Americans age 50 and over. The report showed that the divorce rate in this age group actually doubled between 1990 and 2009, and it is expected that it will continue to increase over the next several years. In 2009 alone, over 600,000 people filed for divorce.

Florida’s Divorce Rate

In 2010, Florida’s divorce rate was 4.5 percent, well above the national average of 3.6 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is not surprising, given the gray divorce trend and the fact that Florida has one of the highest populations of older residents in the country.

According to the Miami Herald, the baby boomer generation is leading the trend of older couples divorcing. One main reason for this is that many people in this age group are often on their second or even third marriage and those remarriages are at more risk of ending in divorce than a first-time marriage. Other reasons include:

  • Baby boomers look for self-fulfillment in marriage rather than just financial stability.
  • Gender roles have changed, with women becoming more financially independent.
  • Divorce is more accepted in society.
  • People are living longer and therefore may choose to divorce their spouse if the marriage is not a happy one, once the children are grown.

As of 2010, it is estimated that 1 out of 10 marriages for older couples now ends in divorce, and that number may have grown since then.

Special Challenges With Gray Divorce

When older people file for divorce, it can have a drastic effect on their financial situation and retirement plans according to USA Today. Couples often plan for retirement together, and divorce means that the plan must now support two separate retirements. This can create financial challenges for someone who was planning on having a comfortable retirement with plenty of money to travel, enjoy the good life and leave to children as an inheritance.

Adding to this challenge is the fact that it is 30 percent more expensive for a single person to retire as it would be for a married couple. For some people, divorcing means that they may have to stay at their job much longer than they originally intended. They may also have to cut back on their living expenses, sell their home for a smaller residence, give up the dream of buying a boat or an RV, eliminate eating out, lose a club membership and other perks. If you are going through a divorce, you should consult with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to understand what the implications are going to be and how to prepare yourself for them.