The phenomenon of older people in Maryland dissolving their marriage is known as gray divorce, and it continues to rise even while the rate in other age brackets remains steady or even decreases. Interestingly, women over 50 seek divorce at higher rates than men.
In the past, women were often financially dependent on their husbands, and this was a deterrent to divorce. However, as women began joining the workforce, they became independent earners, which allowed them to seek divorce at higher rates than before. Additionally, in the past, divorce was not as socially acceptable as it is now. For many older women, seeking a divorce became an option only as they got older.
There are other reasons why women seek gray divorce at a rate higher than men. These are often related to changing family dynamics. For many women, realizing that they have many years to live, happiness becomes a priority, so they decide to walk away from their failing marriage. Some of the reasons for seeking divorce include:
- Becoming empty nesters as adult children move out
- Realizing that over the years, the spouses have grown emotionally apart
- Understanding that they have different values than their spouses
- Walking away from emotionally or physically abusive relationships
Risks of gray divorce
Choosing a gray divorce is not without its risks, and for older women, a major one is the financial impact. Generally, older women who seek a divorce see their living standard drop by about 45%, compared to men who see a drop of about 21%. Starting over during this period of life can be more challenging as well, and recovering financially can be difficult.
Review your finances before beginning the process if you are considering a gray divorce. You can then plan for how you want to proceed.