The numbers may surprise you. Since the 1990s, the divorce rate of people at least 50 years old has “roughly doubled,” according to Pew Research Center. Pew looked at federal government data, noting that for people at least age 65, the divorce rate in that same time frame tripled.

Baby Boomer divorce

Interestingly, the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) had “unprecedented levels of divorce” in their young adult years, so are more likely to be in remarriages or relatively shorter marriages later in life. Both kinds of marriages have higher rates of divorce than first marriages or longer marriages, respectively, reports Pew.

Senior divorce

Still, significant numbers of gray divorces occur in marriages that have lasted at least three decades. Pew reports that many people in these long-term marriages are deciding to leave unsatisfactory circumstances for “independence” despite their relatively older ages.

The reality, though, is that long-term retirement planning that was meant to finance one household will have to be adjusted to finance two retirement households after divorce, so each party, depending on the circumstances, may experience an unexpected tightening of the financial belt. In addition, declining health can be a factor in older age, raising financial concerns related to health insurance, long-term care and related expenses.

Older women, too, may have spent significant time as homemakers instead of in the workplace, so finding good-paying jobs may be challenging (if they are short of retirement age).

Legal guidance

The bottom line is that anyone facing a gray divorce in Pennsylvania should seek experienced, knowledgeable legal counsel who can advocate for the financial security needed in older age. A lawyer can negotiate the terms of a marital settlement agreement with careful analysis of issues of property and debt division, alimony and insurance protection. Should the parties be unable to reach agreement, the attorney can advocate for an outcome in court that will provide a safety net for the client.