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So-called 'gray divorce' is on the rise

While the divorce rate in Illinois and across the country has either stabilized or even decreased for nearly every age group since 1990, it has doubled for people older than 50. According to a report in The Washington Post, the rate of divorce has more than doubled for those older than 65.

Sociologists from Bowling Green State University conducted a study in 2013 that looked at the reasoning behind the jump. According to the report, more than half of the couples that went through a divorce had been married for more than 20 years. The marriages that were dissolved were often chalked up to people who had simply grown apart from each other.

For many people, this may mean autonomy and financial independence. However, for those without the means, a so-called "gray divorce" could actually mean a worsened condition. The researchers drew the following conclusions for those who divorce in older years and may not have good health or solid financial means:

  • People who go through a gray divorce have in increased risk of becoming impoverished.
  • The wealth of widowed people is more than twice than that of those who experience a divorce older than 50.
  • Older Americans who are divorced have, on average, only 20 percent of the wealth of their married counterparts.

The American Association of Retired Persons also points out that older single people who lack assets are more likely to have to depend on public benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. 

While a divorce during older years can have some serious emotional and financial repercussions, people who are prepared may be better equipped to deal with the circumstances. Proper financial planning and legal representation can help prevent dire situations for those going through a gray divorce.

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