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Americans are not getting divorced as much as they used to. In just eight years, from 2008 to 2016, the divorce rate in the U.S. dropped 18 percent. But this trend is not the same for everyone in the country or here in Mongomery County. Nationwide, older people are getting divorced more often than ever before.

Statistics show that from 1990 to 2015, the divorce rate doubled among people age 50 and older. There is no one cause to explain this. Younger people may be getting divorced less because they are cohabiting more and marrying less. When a relationship between two people in their 20s or 30s ends, it is more likely to be a breakup than a divorce. Also, older people could be in their second or third marriage. For many of them, it can be emotionally easier to end a marriage that has lasted five or ten years, compared with 30 or 40.

What makes gray divorce different

Dissolving a marriage between two older people is called “gray divorce.” The law applies to divorce the same way no matter how old the spouses are. But practically speaking, divorce looks quite different for seniors. For one thing, child support and child custody are unlikely to come up, since the kids are probably adults.

Meanwhile, property division tends to be more complex, because the spouses have spent decades accumulating wealth. They are likely homeowners with substantial retirement savings. Getting divorced can have a dramatic impact on your standard of living if you are not careful. One study suggests that women experience a 45 percent drop in standard of living after a gray divorce. For men, the drop is 15 percent. An older person going through divorce should work with their attorney to ensure that they will still be financially comfortable once the marriage ends. This is especially important for those who might lack the work experience to get a job or are too infirm to work anymore.

Your best bet for getting a fair outcome to a gray divorce case is to retain an experienced family law attorney.