Legal Lens: Navigating divorce for people over 50

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Divorce rates across our nation are down. However, divorce is up in one age group: people 50 years of age and above.

Brown & Crouppen associate attorney Brandon Jackson joins FOX 2 to explain “grey divorce.”

“Grey divorce refers to individuals who are over 50 and going through divorce. And what’s interesting is it runs counter to a national trend where divorces are going down,” he said. “But for those over 50, it has increased over 50% since 1990.”

Why is there a spike in these divorces?

“Tempting to say because of empty nest syndrome and also women enjoying more freedom later in life, but people are living longer and those baby boomers have a greater life expectancy than their predecessors,” Jackson said. “Marriages that were ending in death are now ending in divorce.”

How are these different than other divorces that attorneys have seen over the years?

“It is somewhat different; what we call ‘non-grey divorces.’ In non-grey divorces, we see a lot of issues with custody of kids,” Jackson said. “In grey divorces, those are people over 50 most of the time those children are out of the home. We don’t really see a lot of battles over custody but what do see a lot of is battles over retirement accounts. For people who have achieved more in their career later in life, we see debates over who should receive what in retirement account, 401k, pension, things like that.”

What kind of advice would you have for anyone going through a grey divorce?

“One is to make sure you are taking care of mental and physical health. Research shows that divorce is very tough on people over 50. Make sure you are talking to people. There is a sense of isolation people go through,” Jackson said. “The most important thing is you secure an experienced divorced attorney. These matters legally can change drastically pending on count and court you are in, so having an experienced attorney will be helpful.”

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