Divorce Goes Gray in New York

In recent years, the number of divorces between spouses over 50 has markedly increased in New York State, leading to the surge of the term “gray divorce.” Because of their ages, spouses going through a gray divorce face issues not confronted by younger spouses.
Conversely, they avoid various issues as well, such as child custody. For anyone potentially facing the impacts of a gray divorce, gaining an understanding of the nature and ramifications of this type of divorce will be helpful in preparing.

Why Gray Divorces Have Been on the Rise in New York

Law and culture can both be named as causes of the rise in gray divorces. Culturally speaking, divorce has become more common in general in New York and the rest of the country. It has also become more accepted and is less stigmatized. But this is not the only reason for the increase in divorces.
In 2010, an important change in divorce law occurred in New York that added a no-fault category as grounds for divorce. Prior to the enactment of this law, a spouse who wanted to dissolve their marriage needed to demonstrate grounds for divorce based on some reason, such as abandonment or adultery.
For a no-fault divorce, there need be no reason but an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.

Common Issues in Gray Divorces

Given the age of spouses in gray divorces, the stakes are often higher. A divorce is a rupture of a lifelong agreement, leading to new and adjusted plans. Because older spouses have less time than younger couples to work and invest, they have less time to recover and rebuild. This makes financial issues, which all divorcing spouses face, more impactful for gray divorce parties.

Half a Nest Egg

Divorce transforms a whole nest egg for two people into half a nest egg for each. Mathematically, the situation seems similar. However, there are now two households instead of one, meaning you must double the expenses in this area.

Reduced Earning Capacity

An older spouse may have reduced earning capacity due to years of the other spouse providing most of the household sustenance while advancing in their career. Couple this with the difficulty many people find obtaining gainful employment after 50, and you have a dire situation for said spouse.
Judges take these factors into consideration and understand that a 60-year-old homemaker of ten or more years is unlikely to enter the workforce and acquire employment to cover their expenses in the same way they did while married.

Delayed Retirement

A two-income household is of great economic benefit to both spouses. Taking one income away means future plans must often change. Couples who divorce after 50 are sometimes forced to delay their retirements to make up for the loss of the income of their former spouse as well as the loss of half of a shared nest egg.

Avoiding Pitfalls

Depending on the marriage, a myriad of pitfalls may exist in any gray divorce. Fortunately, avoiding many of them is possible with the aid of an experienced New York divorce attorney.

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