6 Things to consider before grey divorce

Dec 18, 2022
Are you considering a grey divorce? Source: Getty

When considering getting a divorce, there are so many things to think about. These factors are often different for over 60s as opposed to those under this age. In most cases, you don’t have to worry about how it will affect your children, where the kids will live, and who will look after them.

Instead, there are a number of different things to consider when it comes to getting divorced at a later stage of life.

Here are six things you need to consider before proceeding with a grey divorce.

The financial impact

The financial impact is often the most important thing for both spouses to consider before divorcing.

Usually, grey divorces come at a time when one or both spouses are retired or close to retirement age, and earning capacity is low or non-existent. Much of course will depend on your financial situation, but even if you are well-off, assets will be split, living expenses will more than likely increase and living standards may well decline.

Completing a financial audit and drawing up a budget of what possible earnings and future living expenses may be, will give a good indication of what lifestyle you might expect to have after your grey divorce.

And then, of course, there is also the potential cost of the actual divorce and property settlement to consider, and who will cover these costs. These may run into thousands of dollars, particularly if the divorce or property settlement becomes a highly contentious and drawn-out affair.

The practical impact

The practicalities of life after a grey divorce can also be a most daunting thought that needs some serious consideration.

Questions like “would I remain in the family home or would I have to move or sell? Where will I move to? What will I be able to afford?” will need answers, before pressing ahead with your divorce.

The thought of living on one’s own after a long marriage can seem like a scary prospect, especially if you may have never lived alone before.

Spouses that have been relying on their partners for many day-to-day tasks during their married lives, also need to consider if alternative support networks can be established to help.

However, staying in an unhealthy relationship just because you don’t want to be alone is not a reason to remain together. Consider how you might need practical help in life and think about who you might be able to rely on for that support.

 The emotional impact

They say that next to death, divorce is the most stressful and emotionally draining event in anyone’s life. Nobody can escape the emotional impact of grey divorce, no matter how mentally strong they may think they are.

The level of impact will of course depend on each individual’s capacity to cope, the circumstances of the divorce, and their own situation. If the cause of the divorce was infidelity, the emotional impact may be amplified with feelings of shock, betrayal, anger, loss of self-confidence, and even shame and embarrassment.

Whatever the cause may be, the emotional impact affects people in many different ways. Some may isolate, putting themselves at risk of other serious hazards, including depression, while others may turn to overspending, overeating, or other types of addiction to numb the pain, none of which can lead to a positive outcome.

Consider how you might react emotionally to being newly single and living a completely new kind of life, and surround yourself with people who can support you through your ups and downs.

Professional support can always be an option too, as some people can feel they shouldn’t burden their friends and family with their problems.

The health impact  

Getting a grey divorce can impact hugely on our health, both physically and mentally. It can lead to insomnia, lack of energy, and a sedentary way of life, which in turn can trigger physical changes, such as blood pressure problems, which can cause a serious knock-on effect on your general state of health.

Overeating, undereating, alcohol and drug abuse, each come with their own sets of hazards to our health too. Some seemingly positive health choices like regular exercise can also become a problem when overdone – remember that it’s not always the bad habits that can have a negative impact on us.

Knowing whether your particular reaction to stress is a temporary one or has the potential to become a long-term problem is important.

Something else to consider is your current health conditions, whether you need regular medication and what level of health insurance you currently have. Make sure that when you are budgeting for your new lifestyle, these important costs are accounted for to ensure you are able to get the level of health care you need, both now and in the future.

It can be a really useful thing to get some support from a health care professional, whether that be your general practitioner or a psychologist.

The family impact

When it comes to grey divorce, most children have already grown up and flown the nest. However, your divorce can still have an impact on the entire family, from your children to your grandchildren and beyond.

How will it affect your relationship with your children and their families? Can you depend on them to support and assist you during this difficult period?

How might family gatherings be affected? Will your split be amicable and therefore you’ll be able to attend events without everyone worrying about causing a scene? Or if it’s contentious, then will you not be able to attend joint family events with your ex?

Again, this is not a reason to stay married if you are unhappy or the relationship has run its course, however, it is something to think about when you are considering what your new life might look like post-divorce.

The social impact

The social impact can often be huge for the grey generation after a long-term marriage.

For some strange reason, erstwhile and lifelong friends can vanish into thin air, leaving one lonely and somewhat disillusioned. You will need to lean on your true friends for support to get you through this difficult time.

You may want to rekindle some old friendships you may have been neglecting during your married life or start new ones. At this later stage of life, it’s not always an easy thing to do, but you will have to get out and socialise, in order to make new friends and minimise the social impact that you may face after your divorce.

Make sure you are prepared for getting out there and keeping your friendships alive, as isolation can cause a knock-on effect on your mental and physical health as well.

Remember that there are never really ‘good’ reasons to stay in a relationship that is no longer serving you, but one still has to give thought to how to build a new life after your relationship ends.

Being prepared for change is half the battle won.

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