Feb 10

Financial Considerations of a “Gray” Divorce

And how to reduce your risk of a lower post-divorce standard of living

By R. Todd Holden, Financial Advisor


Gray divorce is defined as a couple divorcing after a long marriage, usually after kids are grown and the couple is in their 50s or 60s. According to an article from the American Bar Association, the 50+ crowd currently makes up a quarter of all divorces, and 1 in 10 are 65+. Reasons for the rise in gray divorce include growing apart, longer life expectancies, the COVID pandemic and a decrease in the stigma of divorce compared to a generation or two ago.

Regardless of the reasons, gray divorce often comes at a financial cost to one or both spouses. Roberta Henault, of counsel with Taylor Huguley Powers in Fairfax, Virginia, writes, “I meet with so many individuals who believe they will come out of divorce and enjoy the same standard of living. Except with couples who have a very high-income earner or two well-paid earners, the standard of living is often reduced after divorce.” Roberta’s comments are confirmed by a 2017 study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that concludes: Household income on average drops by 40 percent for women and 25 percent for men after divorce. Many people seem to risk financial security in pursuit of the freedom of a new life.

When pursuing a divorce at any age, it is important to keep finances in my mind. Catherine Croft, partner with Farrell & Croft in Manassas, Virginia, writes “Acting without understanding consequences is a mistake. Seek counsel before taking any actions and before signing any documents related to separation or divorce.” She adds that “Jumping directly into litigation without exploring settlement options is often a mistake … Collaboration on reaching a settlement agreement before filing for divorce will usually save money for both parties and pave the way for future civil communications between the parties.”

As a financial advisor, I’ve seen people make mistakes. Sometimes, they just want out at any cost. Others want to keep their marital home and sacrifice substantial financial benefits to do so, risking their long-term financial security. Divorce is an incredibly emotional ordeal, even when it’s the right thing for the couple. It is important to identify advisors and attorneys who will work in your best interests, especially when emotions run high. If you are going through a separation or divorce and would like a complimentary consultation to review your finances, please contact me at rtholden@nwfllc.com or visit my website rtholden.nwfllc.com.

The opinions in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.


Todd Holden, Financial Advisor

Todd Holden

Financial Advisor

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