Skip to content

Navigating the Complexities of Gray Divorce

Divorce is never easy, and it becomes even more complex when it involves long-term marriages. This phenomenon, often referred to as "gray divorce," is increasingly common as more couples over the age of 50 decide to part ways. In this episode of Your Money. Your Mission., host Kelly Mould and guest Anisa Dunn, SVP, Senior Fiduciary Services Manager at Johnson Financial Group, talk about the intricacies of gray divorce, providing valuable insights and advice for those navigating this challenging process.

Understanding Gray Divorce

Gray divorce refers to the rising trend of divorces among older adults, typically over the age of 50. Unlike younger couples, those in gray divorce scenarios have often accumulated significant assets and built intricate lives together. This can include real estate, retirement accounts‌ and other investments that require careful consideration and division.

Legal Representation and Mediation

One of the key concerns raised in the discussion was the importance of legal representation. While it might seem tempting to use one attorney for both parties to save costs, Dunn advises against this approach. Instead, each party should have their own attorney to ensure their individual interests are adequately represented. However, this doesn't mean the process has to be adversarial. Mediation and collaborative divorce are effective alternatives that can help couples reach amicable agreements without lengthy court battles.

Assembling a Team of Experts

Given the complexity of gray divorce, it's crucial to assemble a team of professionals beyond just attorneys. This includes:

  • Financial Advisors: To evaluate and divide assets fairly.
  • Accountants: To assess tax implications and ensure equitable distribution.
  • Appraisers: To provide accurate valuations of real estate and other valuable assets.
  • Estate Planning Attorneys: To update wills, trusts‌ and beneficiary designations post-divorce.

Dunn emphasized the importance of having these experts involved early in the process to avoid future complications.

Equitable Distribution and Spousal Support

In gray divorces, courts aim to distribute assets equitably, though not always equally. Factors like the length of the marriage, the earning capacities of each spouse‌ and their contributions to the marriage (both financial and non-financial) play significant roles in these decisions. Spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, is another critical consideration. It seeks to balance the income disparity that may arise post-divorce, especially when one spouse was a homemaker with limited recent work experience.

Adult Children and Family Dynamics

One unique aspect of gray divorce is its impact on adult children. While custody isn't an issue, adult children may be concerned about their parents' well-being and the preservation of family relationships. Dunn suggested that families prioritize open communication and involve adult children in discussions where appropriate. Additionally, it’s essential to review any informal agreements, such as financial support for adult children, as these may need to be formalized to ensure clarity and enforceability.

Future Planning and Prenuptial Agreements

As couples navigate the end of a long-term marriage, it's also important to think about the future. This includes updating estate plans and considering prenuptial agreements if they decide to remarry. While the idea of a prenup might seem premature or unromantic, it can prevent future conflicts and provide clarity and protection for both parties.


Gray divorce presents unique challenges, but with careful planning and the right support, it can be managed effectively. As Dunn highlighted, the key is to seek professional advice, prioritize equitable solutions‌ and maintain open lines of communication within the family. By doing so, families can navigate this transition while preserving important relationships and ensuring a fair outcome for everyone involved.

Additional Episodes

For additional episodes that will help you maximize your wealth by turning complex financial situations into actionable advice, click the button below.

Have questions?

Do you have an important financial question that our team of experienced professionals can help with? We’d love to hear from you.

Submit your question and we’ll try our best to get your question answered on our Your Money. Your Mission. podcast.