Gray Divorce-Seniors Getting Divorced in Michigan

“Gray Divorce” is a relatively new term to describe when seniors decide to end their marriage. Are there different considerations when you get divorced after 50 in Michigan?

When you are in your 50’s, your life is much different than when you are in your 30’s. In your 30’s your main concern may have been ensuring the kids get through school or building your career. In your 50’s and beyond, you want to relax and enjoy life and your main concern might be buying a vacation property or ensuring your retirement accounts are shored up.

But divorce does not respect age. If you get divorced in your 30’s, you may end up in a custody battle over your children. When you get divorced later in life, you have other considerations. Let’s explore what to consider when you are getting divorced later in life in Michigan.

Do People Get Divorced After 50 in Michigan?

Yes. In fact, one of the unfortunate realities that has arisen in the past 30 years has been the rate of divorce among senior couples. The percentage of divorces of couples over 50 has doubled since 1990. Divorce in general has become more common, but what has driven the divorce rate up among seniors is different than other reasons.

One of the main reasons divorces occur among older Michigan residents is boredom. Couples that were busy with their kids and careers settle down into retirement and their empty nest years and realize they aren’t happy anymore with one another. As one older divorcee put it “The thought that I would be with my husband for another 25 years just wasn’t tolerable.” Other reasons are more common, such as infidelity, money troubles or alcohol abuse.

Getting divorced later in life in Michigan

The other major factor has been the accessibility and de-stigmatization of divorce in society. 40 years ago, it was almost a scandal to get divorced. Now, because of the acceptance of divorce, older couples feel more liberated to sever the bonds of matrimony to enjoy their golden years.

What To Consider When Divorcing Later in Life in Michigan

Rather than dealing with child custody and parenting time, divorces among senior citizens usually involve retirement accounts and investments. Understanding the rules of property division in Michigan divorces will help you determine your best course of action when getting divorced after 50.

Remember that spousal support may be ordered, so your pension and IRA payouts can be impacted. Depending on your joint assets, you may have to sell a home. All of this is something to think about when getting a “gray divorce” in Michigan.

Other assets you will want to think about include:

Social Security

The dependent spouse or the spouse who earned less may qualify for a portion of the other spouse’s Social Security benefits. Issues, like when the spouse can start collecting social security benefits and how delayed retirement credits may affect it, will have to be sorted out during the divorce. Remarrying can also affect a spouse’s eligibility for the other’s Social Security benefits.


Both parties are likely to have retirement accounts like 401k’s, IRA’s or pensions. You may also have stocks and bonds to use to pay expenses during your retirement. In Michigan, generally all retirement benefits earned during the marriage such as 401ks, IRAs, and other plans will be split between the parties. This could have a huge impact on the amount of money you retain from your own retirement accounts as well as those of your spouse. Often, though you thought you had a certain amount of savings and sources of income for retirement, that may change if you enter into a “gray divorce”.


Health and life insurance policies may also be impacted in a late-life divorce. For many couples, one person in the marriage provides health insurance to both parties through their employer. It is important to consider how you will be affected should you no longer be able to receive health insurance through your spouse’s employer. You may qualify for Medicare based on your former spouse’s Social Security benefits. Alternatively, because of your benefits, your ex may be eligible for Medicare.

Life insurance is also something that matters when one spouse motions for alimony or spousal support. When a spouse is awarded spousal support, life insurance may be used as security, ensuring that the spouse entitled to spousal support receives financial benefits upon the death of the other spouse.

Other factors may factor into your decision. However, if you are planning on divorcing in your golden years, contact The Mitten Law Firm today.