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Gray Divorce: Tips for Splitting Up After 60

By Brian Joslyn June 06, 2023 Family

Over the past few years, gray divorce has been increasing. Since 1990, the rate of people over the age of 50 getting a divorce has doubled.

What Exactly Is a Gray Divorce?

Most of the time, the term “gray divorce” refers to couples who are over the age of 50 and are seeking a divorce. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, due to children being grown up and out of the house. They have the mental capacity to see either side of the divorce and come to terms with their parents’ separating.

Additionally, there is no fighting over child support, custody agreements, and other things that are involved when divorcing with younger children. Many couples over the age of 50, who are looking to divorce their spouse, do not see it as a big deal due to their generation knocking down the stigma that surrounds divorce. They see it as a beginning to the next chapter, rather than a life-altering event.

Nevertheless, any couple who is seeking a divorce should hire an experienced divorce attorney. This will ensure that the divorce proceedings stay neutral, everyone gets their fair share, and the future is planned.

Reasons Why Couples Split Up Later in Life

There are many reasons why couples over the age of 50 choose to divorce. Divorce is a personal matter, but many gray divorces happen for the same reasons. Here are the top three reasons why gray divorces occur in today’s society.


Many couples have money issues at some point in their marriage, but when money issues are still present later in life, the stress and pressure can increase. In marriages where one person cannot keep to a budget, and the other spouse can, we tend to see divorces once the couple ages past 50.

We also see divorces occur when one spouse makes an investment decision that goes sideways and ends up depleting the nest eggs they had for their retirement. If a spouse loses their job, it can also create tension and financial issues.

It’s important to realize that when couples are younger and in their earning years, it’s easy to overlook mistakes, but when couples are trying to save or live off of their retirement incomes, there is less room for mistakes and exorbitant expenses. When older couples cannot agree on how to manage their finances, we tend to see divorce as a result.


Regardless of what the media shows, people have sexual needs at all ages, and when they think they can’t get that satisfaction at home, they either get rid of the notion in their heads or they act on it. We definitely see infidelity happen in older couples as the hormones that create sexual desire change at different rates for men and women. When one spouse has sexual desire and the other spouse does not, it may lead to the spouse seeking to satiate that desire outside of their relationship.

Cheating is not as taboo as it has been in the past and does not have as many social stigmas surrounding it. Many online dating sites advertise “cougars” and “sugar daddies” which cater to the desire of having a younger partner.

While infidelity is a common cause of divorce in couples over the age of 50, a lack of a mutual sexual desire can end marriages without the inclusion of cheating. In some cases, a decreasing amount of sex can prevent spouses from being happy. There may be no cheating, but this is a reason why we see gray divorces.

For the Children

Many couples choose to get divorced when they are over the age of 50 because they no longer have to worry about how it will affect their children. More often than not, if a spouse is unhappy but they have children, they will sacrifice their happiness and wait until the children are out of the house before they choose to get a divorce.

This is because many mothers and fathers want to provide the best family experience and set a good example for their children. They also do not want to have to give up their time with their children, as divorces with younger children tend to have custody agreements.

The research and statistics surrounding how children are affected by a divorce can scare a person into staying with their spouse so as not to damage their children. More often we are seeing couples over 50 choosing to divorce each other simply because they were not happy and their children do not depend on them for anything anymore.

Tips for Dealing with a Divorce After 60

Going through a divorce later in life can be difficult, and there are unique circumstances to handle that do not occur in younger divorcing couples. Generally speaking, the one who initiates the divorce will be the one who copes better than the spouse who did not initiate the divorce.

We tend to notice that the spouse who is planning on asking for a divorce has planned to do so for a while, and that can create mixed feelings and emotions in both parties.

Whatever the reason, divorce is full of emotion, especially if the spouse was blindsided by infidelity or was told their spouse fell out of love. Experts have shown that divorce brings up the same feelings as if there was a loss of a loved one.

Most people who go through a divorce, especially later in their lives, can develop depression, and it’s important to handle this right away by seeking medical help and family support.. Engaging in reckless behavior, obtaining an addiction, isolation, and insomnia are just a few of the symptoms a depressed divorcee may encounter.

It’s important to know that divorcing a spouse is not the end of the world, and that’s why we have compiled the best tips for dealing with a gray divorce. We know it’s always an emotionally charged time, and sometimes those emotions and other factors can prohibit people from seeing clearly.

Start Living as a Single Person

The hardest thing to do in a divorce is to start living life without a spouse. The sooner a person can start living life as if they are single, the quicker they will become accustomed to their new life. This will not only help set up a new structure, but it will also help accept the fact that divorce is inevitable.

It may feel awkward at first, but it’s very beneficial to start looking at what life has in store rather than what is missing.

Live Where You Want to

We recommend taking full advantage of this life change. Many older couples who choose to get divorced will then move to their dream destination. Compromises are made in all relationships and that includes where to live.

Many take this opportunity to take a leap and move to the place that fits perfectly with their personalities and desires. We recommend that newly divorced older people find hobbies and interests that they never had the time for in the past.

After all, many divorcees have spent the past decade or two working, raising a family, and contributing to their community, so this is the time for them to place their needs first, and that starts by moving to where they want to live.

Reconnect with Old Friends

Many people who get a divorce find themselves lacking friends or family to spend time with, as they have prioritized spending time with their children and spouse in the past. This is the perfect time to rekindle old friendships and relationships with family that may have fizzled out in the past.

Life gets away from people, but it’s never too late to ask an old friend over for drinks or to go to a movie together. Not only does this help old relationships become current relationships, but it also greatly helps with the mental health aspect of divorce. Being alone, especially in an emotional time, is very hard on mental health. Having friends and family to spend time or have a conversation with is essential.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of the body, mind, and soul is essential when ending any relationship. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sunshine are the best ways to maintain a healthy body and mindset. We recommend starting up old hobbies that were too time-consuming before or starting a new hobby that has always been intriguing.

This could be art, pottery, gardening, kayaking, paddle boarding, yoga, golfing, etc. Whatever the heart desires is what should be done after a gray divorce. This is the perfect time to stop prioritizing other people, and start focusing on personal priorities.

Start reading down your book list, sign up for the cocktails and canvas party, binge watch a new show, whatever creates personal happiness should be followed after a gray divorce. It’s time to be selfish.

Working with an experienced divorce lawyer is the best way to prepare for a gray divorce. A divorce lawyer can help you decide what you want your future years to look like with respect to your finances, emotions, and family. Retirement plans, houses, and joint finances can be tricky to divvy up and create more stress.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you considering a divorce? What is your primary reason? How do you see yourself in 10 years? What do you think will be different for you after divorce?

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This article sounds a lot like it was written just to advertise the “specialness” of divorce attorneys! I initiated a separation and, after a few years a divorce, because, as another writer said, I wasn’t happy and life is short. I was in my mid-fifties. I didn’t want or need to spend hundreds of dollars an hour on a divorce attorney, who would just have initiated a more contentious situation. I dreaded the whole divorce idea but after meeting some men who weren’t interested in dating a woman who was separated but not divorced, I finally saw an attorney and stated simply that I wanted my half of the sale of our home and my share of our retirement funds. There was nothing to argue about and no reason to hire an attorney who would stir up a hornet’s nest. My spouse agreed to the terms and the divorce was quickly concluded. Some time later I met and married my current husband and we have been very happy for close to 20 years. If you aren’t happy and you also recognize that we only get one go-round, then take that leap, but don’t hire a $500 lawyer who will just make your life miserable. Use a mediator or make your divorce terms simple and you will be happier for it.


As noted on this site previously, after a divorce it can be useless contacting old friends expecting to reignite friendships, as they may have moved on, & could be busy with their own social activities & families.
This is time to join new groups, cultivate your new interests & make new friends.


Having gone through a divorce, and not a pleasant one, hiring a divorce attorney can escalate issues. I finally convinced my ex to go to a mediator (who used to be a divorce attorney) and we were able to divide things up without the ungodly legal bills. We each spent $250 for the entire process. Just saying.

Catherine Vance

I am a family law attorney (30 years) and nearing retirement. I have given this article some careful thought. I have found in my practice every one of the divorces I am handling for people over 60 are because the participants realize: Life is short. I am not happy.
Nearly all of these divorces are uncontested! Both parties come in and we do a mediated divorce–one lawyer, half the cost, half the time, speedier — let’s just get it done. They
sell the house and split the proceeds and move on to seize the day, seeing they have 20+ more good years and are no longer compatible or in love. The women are happy with
church, volunteering, friends, and travel, and uninterested in partnering up ever again. The men, unencumbered by a house, get an RV and hit the road. Just sayin’.


At age 72 and 10 years post divorce, I want to add that most gray divorces in my observation are initiated by men. Of the four, including mine, of which I had insider-info, the men had planned months to years in advance. they were emotionally and financially prepared to move on, buy a new house, three remarried within a year, and they h ad spent considerable effort in pre-planning how they intended to live out their remaining gray years. In my case, several lawyers informed me they could not help me because they had been contacted earlier by my spouse! Most lawyers were hesitant to litigate unless there was a large estate. It is difficult to consider moving on after a divorce if you are blindsided both emotionally and financially just before or as you contemplate retirement.

The Author

Brian Joslyn is a family law and divorce attorney practicing in the state of Ohio. Brian handles cases involving divorce, separation, spousal support, child support and more. Brian has devoted his life to principles of fairness and justice in the treatment of his clients and the outcomes he seeks on their behalf.

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