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Grey Divorce: What It Is and How to Get through It with Your Lifestyle Intact


Picture this: you and your spouse are approaching retirement. The kids are moved out and in college. You finally have the house all to yourselves and…that’s when it happens: the word divorce comes up over dinner in big, bold letters. You and your partner have just entered the rising trend of Grey Divorce.

Grey Divorce refers to couples of middle-age or older who have chosen to end a marriage. Usually, these couples have spent decades of their lives together building families and building assets. This can make the already complicated scenario of a divorce even more so, given how much of their lives – both personal and financial – have become entangled over time.

What are the unique challenges that Grey Divorce presents?

One of the biggest challenges faced by individuals going through the process of dividing their shared assets at a later stage in life is that they have much less time to recover financial losses and to reassess their retirement plans. This is why understanding what your lifestyle will look like coming out of a divorce is crucial, because you will be transitioning from having two incomes or a larger income entity to what you’re able to earn or accumulate on your own, plus whatever you receive in the settlement.

What are some helpful first steps that an individual can take when considering Grey Divorce?

If you are considering Grey Divorce, or believe that it’s likely your partner may be, the best step you can take is to start accumulating information: on debts, tax returns, insurance policies, annuities, assets (investible as well as cash, collectibles, etc.) This will arm you with the documents necessary to assess your current situation. The second step you may want to consider is working with a financial advisor to review the information you have assembled and to help you plan for your new life moving forward.

Why might working with a financial advisor be helpful in the case of Grey Divorce?

Working with a financial advisor in any divorce can offer you greater peace of mind. When it comes to divorce, you really have only one chance to get things right. Once you sign your settlement agreement, if you discover that the division of assets was not in your best interests, it can cost a staggering amount of money to relitigate. In addition, the splitting of assets in a divorce, particularly in a Grey Divorce where the assets of a couple have had a lot of time to accumulate, can involve a number of complicated financial decisions. You’ll want to reevaluate and update estate plans, think about what you’re going to do for medical insurance, and decide who’s going to pay for college if you have children approaching college age.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. More and more couples are deciding to get divorced later and later in life. Arming yourself with knowledge and the right team of professionals from the get-go can help you ensure that a difficult life event is handled as smoothly and beneficially as possible.


David A. Emery, CFP®, CDFA® , Senior Financial Planner at Planning Capital Management

Author Bio:

David A. Emery is a Senior Financial Planner with the Planning Capital Management Corp. He has provided wealth management and financial planning services to clients in the Philadelphia area since 2003. Dave holds the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) designation, in addition to his CFP® certification.

Planning Capital Management Corp is a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC, and we are held to a fiduciary standard with all of our clients. We offer full financial planning in conjunction with investment advice and portfolio management. Should you have any questions or concerns about current market conditions, or just general financial planning questions, schedule a call with us!