Your Guide to Grey Divorce -A Term Coined For Adults Divorcing In Their Later Years

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Your Guide to Grey Divorce -A Term Coined For Adults Divorcing In Their Later Years

Bill and Melinda Gates shocked the world in May 2021, announcing their divorce after 27 years of marriage. Later that year, iconic Aussie entertainer Kamahl announced his split from his wife of 55 years, at the age of 87.

It’s not just celebrities choosing this path. ‘Grey Divorce’ – a term coined for adults divorcing in their later years – is rising in Australia. In fact, last year, The Separation Guide revealed a 27 per cent increase in the number of people aged 45+ and married for over 20 years seeking advice on separation. Your guide to Grey Divorce – a term coined for adults divorcing in later years.

Why are older people choosing divorce?

There are a variety of reasons unique to the later stages of life. Often, couples stay in an unfulfilling marriage for the ‘sake of the kids’, only to divorce as empty nesters. For others, retirement and suddenly spending more time together can lead to a discovery that you no longer have much in common.

Others may seek greater independence, pursue unfulfilled dreams, or experience personal growth that leads to a re-evaluation of their relationships.

Financial concerns, health issues, infidelity, and emotional dissatisfaction can also contribute to the decision. And quite simply, people are living longer. So even at age 65, you could have another 20 years or more of life to consider.

Tips if you’re considering a late-life divorce 

It’s a deeply personal, life-changing decision to part ways with your long-term partner – so it’s crucial to take certain steps to ensure a smoother process.

  1. Consider seeking guidance from a marriage counsellor. They can help explore your feelings, expectations, and potential avenues for reconciliation.
  2. Maintain open communication with your partner. This is vital to gauge their feelings and ensure you’ve tried everything to avoid parting ways.
  3. Consider your later life care needs. You’ll need to make important decisions on your long-term care plan if you’re single. Healthcare coverage may also need to be addressed. How are you going to finance that?
  4. Seek emotional support. Emotionally, a grey divorce can be challenging, as you’ve shared a significant portion of your lives together. It’s important to approach the process with empathy and seek support from friends, family, or support groups.
  5. Seek legal advice. As soon as the decision has been made to divorce, seek professional advice from an experience family lawyer can be a time-consuming, complicated experience, and they will be able to protect your interests and guide you through the legal process.
  6. Engage with a financial planner. Financial implications can be trickier for older couples who have accumulated substantial assets over the years. Decisions regarding the division of property, retirement funds, and spousal support become crucial. Some older women may have spent much of their life out of the workforce raising children and unable to accumulate enough superannuation. A professional can help you work through your personal situation and help you make the most of your money.

What’s involved with getting a divorce?

An experienced family lawyer can guide you through the legal processes, including filing for divorce, negotiating settlements, and ensuring your rights and interests are protected. Lawyers can also help address issues related to property division, retirement accounts, and spousal maintenance to achieve a fair and equitable resolution.

The steps involved are

  • Separate for one year. Before applying for a divorce, you need to prove you have been separated for at least 12 months.
  • File your application with the Court. It then generally takes 3-4 months from the application date for the Court to finalise a divorce.
  • Serve your spouse’s divorce papers. This only applies if you were a sole applicant, not a joint applicant with your spouse.
  • Wait for your hearing date or attend your divorce hearing. This is usually 2-4 months from the date you filed your application. These are done over the phone, and you will only need to attend if you’re a sole applicant with children under the age of 18. You find out on this day if divorce has been granted.
  • Receive your divorce orders. You’ll receive this official paperwork one month and one day from the date of your hearing. At this time, you’re officially divorced, and able to remarry if you wish.

If you find yourself considering a late-life separation, it’s essential to approach the process with careful consideration, seek professional guidance, and surround yourself with a supportive network. Remember, navigating a grey divorce requires patience, empathy, and a focus on building a brighter future.

Featured photo by Unsplash

Janet Camilleri is an Australian copywriter and blogger. No matter what she writes, or who she is writing for, Janet aims to amuse, inspire or inform – and sometimes, all three!

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