Divorce is often considered a young person’s game—a heartbreaking pitfall encountered early or mid-marriage. But what about “grey divorce,” the term coined for couples parting ways after decades together? Notably, research from the Pew Research Center suggests that the divorce rate for adults aged 50 and over has roughly doubled since the 1990s and comes with its own unique set of challenges and complexities. Here’s a deep dive into grey divorce and actionable strategies to mitigate its impact.

Why is Grey Divorce Increasing?

Some factors contributing to the surge in grey divorce include longer life expectancy, changing social norms, and a reevaluation of happiness and individual fulfilment at older ages.

Financial Implications

One of the most tangible aspects to consider is the financial implication. Dividing assets that took a lifetime to build can be both complex and emotionally draining. This can affect retirement plans and even the ability to maintain one’s current lifestyle. Studies have shown that grey divorce can have severe financial repercussions, especially for women. They may experience a decline in their living standards by up to 45%, according to a study published in the journal “Demography.”

Tip: Consult a Financial Advisor

Getting professional financial advice can help you understand the long-term ramifications and equip you with strategies to safeguard your financial future.

Emotional Health

Grey divorce can also be emotionally taxing. Reentering the single life, often after decades, can feel both liberating and overwhelming and contrary to popular belief, older adults don’t necessarily cope better with divorce than their younger counterparts. The emotional toll can be quite heavy, leading to increased rates of depression and loneliness, according to research in the “Journal of Marriage and Family.”

Tip: Emotional Support Network

Building a strong emotional support network, including friends, family, and mental health professionals, can make this transition less daunting.

Impact on Family

When older parents divorce, it’s not just them; it affects the whole family structure. Adult children can feel confused and betrayed. Studies suggest that a grey divorce can create a “domino effect” on the entire family system, including adult children and grandchildren. Relationships can become strained, leading to reduced family cohesion.

Tip: Open Communication

Maintain open lines of communication with all family members involved. It’s never too late to begin family therapy to navigate these complex emotions collectively.

How to Soften the Downside?

Evaluate The Relationship

Before jumping into the decision, take time to evaluate your relationship. Have an open and honest discussion with your partner about what’s not working and explore the possibility of therapy.

Legal Advice

Consider collaborative divorce or mediation to make the process less adversarial and more cooperative. It’s less stressful and often more economical.

Re-Imagine Your Life

If you decide to go ahead with the divorce, take it as an opportunity to reinvent your life. It’s a chance for a fresh start, filled with new possibilities.


Grey divorce is a complex, multifaceted issue that is becoming more prevalent in today’s society. While it can be emotionally and financially draining, understanding its unique challenges can help mitigate its downsides. With thoughtful planning, emotional resilience, and the right support, it’s possible to navigate this life change in a way that opens doors to new opportunities and happiness.

This article was written by Director & Senior Adviser Shane Mitchell and provides general information that should not be considered personalised financial advice. If you have specific questions or concerns book a session to review your situation or any other financial planning issue by contacting Shane directly on 08 6222 7909 or book a meeting directly via his booking page.

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Inspired Money