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The emotional and financial costs of gray divorce

Gray divorces are becoming far more common in Georgia and around the country even though the overall divorce rate remains fairly stable. In 1990, only one in 10 divorces involved spouses over the age of 50. That figure has now risen to one in four. This trend has experts in some quarters worried as the emotional fallout from a gray divorce can be extremely hard and the financial consequences are often dire.

People who have been married for many years often have difficulty coping when their husband or wife is killed in an accident or succumbs to a serious illness, but a study from Bowling Green State University suggests that those who go through a gray divorce have an even harder time adjusting to the prospect of living alone. The researchers found that the recently divorced were more likely to fall into depression than the recently widowed, and they frequently gained weight and developed health problems such as high blood pressure.

Getting divorced later in life can also leave people financially unprepared for retirement. According to the BGSU researchers, household wealth declines by as much as 50% following a gray divorce. The limited time older people have to rebuild their nest eggs compounds the problem, and women who have raised families and may find it difficult to reenter the workforce can be hit particularly hard.

Alimony negotiations may be extremely important in gray divorce cases when the person who will be receiving support could find getting a job difficult. In these situations, experienced family law attorneys may consult with financial planners to draw up a detailed budget before negotiations begin.

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