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What Is Gray Divorce?

What Is Gray Divorce?

Data from Bowling Green State University reveals that the overall divorce rate in the United States for 2022 was 14.56 divorces per 1,000 married women. Michigan’s rate is slightly below this national figure, standing at 12.89 divorces per 1,000 married women.

While the overall divorce rate is trending downward, there is one group for whom the divorce rate is increasing. This group is composed of adults aged 50 and older. Known as gray divorce, the phenomenon has accelerated in recent years to the point that people over 50 make up one out of every four divorcing couples.

Take a closer look at why gray divorce stands out from other types of divorces in Michigan.

3 Ways Gray Divorce Is Different

Any divorce has the potential to be complicated, regardless of whether the parties involved are old or young. While both gray divorces and divorces among younger couples can present legal hurdles, the nature of these obstacles is different for older divorcing couples. Three unique features of gray divorces include:

  1. Size and Value of the Marital Estate

First, older couples are more likely to have accumulated more assets at the time of their divorce and thus may have a more complicated time splitting the marital estate.

A court must divide the marital estate fairly and equitably. This process can be complex in a gray divorce, where the marital estate likely consists of substantial retirement accounts and pensions, investments, properties, and businesses that have appreciated in value.

  1. Lack of Child Custody Issues

Older couples who divorce may have children in common, but such children are now likely grown and living outside the home. If an older couple does have a minor child in common, that child is more likely older and nearer to becoming an emancipated adult.

This means that while younger divorcing couples require the court to enter child custody and child support orders, these are not as prevalent of an issue in gray divorces.

  1. Greater Significance of Spousal Support

While child support may not be as common of an issue in a gray divorce, alimony or spousal support often is. This is because both parties are likely close to the age of retirement, and one spouse may have foregone employment for a number of years to support their spouse’s career.

Therefore, the parties in a gray divorce may find it necessary to spend additional time litigating the issue of whether one spouse owes the other ongoing support after the divorce is finalized.

Gray Divorces Are Complicated Legal Matters in Michigan

While you might think that age will make the process of separating from your spouse easier and less complicated, the opposite can be true. You still have the potential to suffer financial harm in a gray divorce, and you are at an age where the impact of such financial harm can be more acutely felt.

A seasoned Michigan family lawyer can help you navigate these issues successfully and protect your best interests.

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