People once thought of divorce and something that typically happened when people married too young and that older couples would stand the test of time if they remain married for at least a decade or so. However, current divorce statistics show that the opposite is true.
Younger couples are less likely to divorce, while couples who have been married for decades now have the highest divorce risk out of any demographic. Divorcing later in life comes with numerous challenges, many of which are practical and financial.
People often recognize the financial risks of a divorce later in life while mentally downplaying the family consequences of a gray divorce. If you have children and divorce when you are close to retirement or after they leave home, you may find that your family dynamics change in one of the two ways.
Your children might take sides
School-age children and teenagers frequently worry about what divorce will do to their relationship with their parents. They feel the pressure of needing to choose where to live and fear that one of their parents may sever their relationship.
The opposite is the big risk in a gray divorce. Adult children can better understand the family issues that led to the divorce and are more likely to blame one of their parents for the changes to the family. You may find yourself only spending every other birthday or holiday with your children even though they are adults because they don’t want to be around both of you at the same time. Sometimes, one parent will find themselves more or less cut out of the family after a late-in-life divorce.
Parents may become dependent on their children
The amount that you saved for retirement likely reflects what you thought it would cost to support you and your spouse. When you need to maintain two households with the same amount of savings, it will be more difficult to live independently.
You may need to make arrangements to live with your children in your golden years. This arrangement can be mutually beneficial, if you can help cover some of their household costs and provide child care services for your grandkids, but it can also strain your relationship.
Having realistic expectations about what a gray divorce will do to your family dynamics can help you prepare for the upcoming changes for your family.