Apr 19, 2016 | Divorce


As readers may be aware, there has been an increase in recent years in divorce among older Americans. So-called “gray divorce” is not only occurring among those who have been married more than once, but just as much among those who have only been married once.

Whatever the reasons for the increase in gray divorce, it is somewhat concerning from a financial perspective. Divorce costs money, not only to go through the legal process, but also to maintain separate households and lives afterward. For older people, these extra costs can put more than just their retirement at risk, but also their financial stability.

One aspect of gray divorce that should not be ignored is the Social Security ramifications. Most people rely on Social Security income in retirement to supply at least some of their income, but divorce can effect these payments. For those who have been married less than ten years, divorce can mean loss of income, so it is important to consider the possibility of wisely timing the divorce.

Couples who have been married 10 or more years are able to Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s record. For divorcees whose ex earned more than they did, this is a real benefit. In order to benefit from this aspect of Social Security law, a couple must have been married at least 10 years and the ex-spouse must be 62 or older. In addition, the spouse seeking modified payments must not be remarried and must be entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue and why it is important for gray divorcees to work with an experienced attorney to protect their rights.


Marketwatch, “How divorce and death affect Social Security benefits,” Robert Powell, Apr 18, 2016.

The Washington Post, “Till Death Do Us Part? No way. Gray Divorce on the Rise,” Brigid Schulte, Oct. 8, 2014.