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The financial impact of a gray divorce

Over the last few decades, the rate of divorce among spouses 50 years of age and older grew significantly in the United States. In fact, SmartAsset indicates that some research shows divorce among spouses 65 and older grew even more than divorce among people aged 50 to 64. 

More than 10% of spouses over 50 reported at least one divorce in a study conducted in 2018. These divorced people may face some unique and challenging financial issues. 

Factors contributing to a rise in gray divorce

MarketWatch explains that a longer lifespan coupled with the growing expectation of happiness later in life may well contribute to the increase in gray divorces. Many of the people who get divorced after 50 had also experienced prior divorces. This reality also factors into the growth in late-life divorces as second or subsequent marriages fail at a higher rate than first marriages. 

The financial fallout of a gray divorce

Some research points to a poverty rate between 1% and 3% among married spouses and 13% among widowed persons. Among persons who divorced after 50, the poverty rate reached 19%. 

Approximately 93% of widowed spouses and 91% of married persons received Social Security income. Among persons who divorced after 50, however, only eight in ten received Social Security benefits. 

Lack of Social Security income and the presence of poverty reduce a person’s ability to afford long-term care and even basic health care. Retirement savings split during a gray divorce leave a person without sufficient income at a time when working no longer remains an option for them.