You might have heard that actor Sylvester Stallone’s wife of 25 years has filed for divorce at a Florida courthouse. This makes Stallone, 76, a high-profile example of what the family law community calls “gray divorce.” A gray divorce happens when a couple in their 50s or older ends their marriage.
Until you have gone through it yourself, you might assume that a couple that has been married for decades and is at or near retirement age has no significant relationship problems and are in it “’til death do us part.” But that is not always the case. Divorce among older Americans makes up one of the fastest-growing trends in the country.
Long-married couples get divorced for the same variety of reasons that younger people do. Here are four of the most common causes of gray divorce.
Not every senior couple has enough saved up to enjoy their golden years comfortably. Financial difficulties can strain any relationship and possibly lead to divorce.
There was a time when a person in their 60s might have chosen to tough out their unhappy marriage, figuring that they only had a few years left and they were too old to start over. But today, advances in medicine have greatly increased the human life span. Most Floridians of the Baby Boomer generation can expect to live into their 70s, 80s or beyond. Someone who is 62 might decide they want to make a change while they still have time.
Married people of all ages cheat on their spouses. The rise of dating apps has made infidelity easier by connecting older and young people. When the other spouse finds out, they often decide to file for divorce, especially if their husband or wife has a history of cheating.
Then there are divorces that don’t happen for any particular reason. One or both spouses simply do not love their partner anymore, or they feel the relationship is no longer working. Maybe these feelings have been brewing for a decade or longer, or maybe they only recently arose. But reaching a certain age can create an urgency not to compromise on a marriage that is not functioning properly.
A gray divorce looks mostly the same as a divorce between younger people, except that child support and child custody are rarely issues. Instead, the couple might have a larger and more complex portfolio of marital assets to divide up.