Arizona couples over the age of 50 are divorcing at a higher rate than younger spouses. Part of the reason is that subsequent marriages fail at a higher rate than initial vows, but there appears to be a generational aspect as well. While divorce rates for the general population are now under 40 percent, they have doubled for those over 50. The phenomenon has sparked the term ‘gray divorce” which refers to older couples calling it quits.

A significant number of gray divorces involve empty nest parents approaching retirement. A recent study revealed that one-third of all divorced women over 50 had departed a marriage lasting three decades or more. Spouses can find themselves at a financial disadvantage if they have taken a hands-off approach to family finances. The survey questioned 600 divorced or widowed women as well as 1,500 married couples. More than half of women said they leave major financial decisions to their husbands. Not surprisingly, 59 percent of widows and divorced women expressed regret over their lack of involvement in financial matters.

An alarming 56 percent of divorced women indicated the discovery of ‘surprises” regarding their finances during the course of their marital split. Not all surprises were negative as some learned about investments and retirement plans. Roughly one in eight separated women said they would take a more active role in finances in subsequent marriages.

While the idea of divorce can be intimidating regardless of age, it can be particularly difficult later in life. That’s why a divorcing spouse may want to consult with a qualified lawyer who can provide guidance regarding how to capture the financial picture and eliminate surprises.