How to Navigate A Grey Divorce And Its Unique Challenges

How to Navigate A Grey Divorce And Its Unique Challenges

In the last 50 years, a new demographic trend has presented itself. Some older adults in relationships they’ve been in for the majority of their lives are calling it quits. We are seeing this happen in increasing numbers. The term ‘grey divorce’ is used to refer to the separation of older couples after decades of marriage. Occurring later in life and typically without children to have to decide a custody arrangement, any divorce lawyer in Toronto will tell you a grey divorce presents some unique challenges.

A Grey Divorce Usually Has No Parenting Issues

One might think the elimination of any decision making and parenting issues simplifies grey divorce proceedings. This, to a degree, is true. The spouses are often older and wiser. The future is more determined. The parties involved are more willing to make a grey divorce as easy as possible, separating out finances and coming up with an agreement or compromise that works for both spouses. In terms of the impact a grey divorce has on children, it is very minimal. A divorce like this is not like that of younger parents who have to come up with a co-parent arrangement. The responsibility there does not need to be decided on by the courts.

Spouses Are Closer to Retirement, Simplifying Finances

If the husband or wife is only a few years away from their retirement, the financial situation becomes much clearer. Any sort of spousal support payments are calculated with this knowledge. However, this doesn’t equate to simplicity. A lot needs to be considered and discussed in crafting an agreement that’s able to adapt to outcomes such as retirement. The medical benefits obtained from employment should also be included in a grey divorce agreement as it must be outlined whether the insurance provider covers the former spouse or not. Some providers have provisions that allow the coverage of a former spouse so long as they are not formally divorced. Once the topic is clarified, it must be stipulated in the separation agreement whether a recipient will be receiving some form of a top-up from the payor or be paying out-of-pocket for their medical coverage.

Health Difficulties Can Complicate Divorces with Older Adults

As we age, we are all going to inevitably encounter health issues. If a spouse is disabled or exhibiting signs of dementia or a similar health issue, this needs to be factored into the spousal arrangements. Furthermore, these sorts of health conditions do not need to be to the point of an impairment. Dementia or any condition that is likely to worsen over time can impact the final separation agreement.

Will Your Children Be Involved In A Grey Divorce?

When two older adults break up and engage in divorce and if they have adult children, a real conversation is needed. How to talk to involved parties is up to the couple. Events like weddings may have to be discussed as does how to tell – or whether to tell – grandchildren. As a divorce lawyer in Toronto, I have had cases where children have insisted on being involved and sometimes to the detriment of the parent. As a lawyer, a certain vigilance and mindfulness are required to ensure one is acting in the best interests of the client and not that of potential benefactors such as adult children.

Is It Better to Have A Separation Agreement?

Some older adults choose a separation agreement over going to court. They may see a stigma around divorce court and want to avoid it. They may have concerns about living entirely alone. Exploring things like money and health publicly may also be something they want to keep private. A separation agreement as an alternative to divorce court is usually appropriate when both spouses are on good terms with one another and able to come up with an arrangement that satisfies the needs of both parties. A separation agreement, however, still attaches both spouses together from a legal standpoint. Simply separating is not good enough for a lot of older adults and does not grant them the freedom they desire. That is, freedom that would come from a legally-binding divorce.

Why Grey Divorces Are Increasing in Canada

Why divorce rates among adults over 50 continue to be on the rise has a lot to do with the perceived benefits. Divorce isn’t stigmatized like it used to be. If someone’s deeply unhappy in their marriage, if there has been a betrayal in the relationship, or if one’s marriage has simply run its course, a divorce may seem like a natural end. A lot of the same reasons for divorce among younger couples holds true with grey divorces. Sometimes excessive stress due to finances or another reason leads to the deterioration of a marriage. It may be a health issue or an uncertainty around the future of a relationship. The reasons for seeking a divorce in older adults can also be a lot gentler, such as a couple simply growing apart. ‘Empty nest syndrome’ is very much something marriages structured around raising a child have to contend with. A husband and wife spend up to two decades and sometimes longer committing themselves to raising their children. Once their kids grow up, move out, and pursue their own lives, a husband and wife are left with only each other. The marriage they had when they started is not necessarily the same marriage as what one arrives at decades later post-children.