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How the COVID-19 Pandemic Could Increase the “Gray Divorce” Trend

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, family lawyers and cultural observers have noticed the increase in divorces amongst older married couples. One study shows that the divorce rate for Americans 50 and older has doubled since 1990. This “gray divorce” trend cuts across social and economic lines and involves many spouses who were wed for decades. Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be even more reasons why people who are middle-aged and older are choosing to end their marriage and pursue new relationship opportunities.

The coronavirus has altered so many parts of our professional and personal lives. Specific elements that could be contributing to divorces among long-married couples include:

  • Increased time together — An old joke says, “I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch.” Lockdowns, remote work and fears of infection have forced many couples to spend more time together than they have in years. Some longtime relationships suffer when spouses don’t have other outlets, and this might motivate people to find new living arrangements.
  • Financial changes — Millions of Americans, even those who have not been infected with the coronavirus, have experienced financial upheaval during the pandemic. A job loss or some other significant financial change could fundamentally alter a household and shift how spouses fund their current lifestyle, as well as their retirement. Adjustments to these plans could trigger divorces among older individuals who had stayed in a marriage to maintain their financial security.
  • Revised priorities — People of all ages have been confronted with the reality that everyone is potentially vulnerable to a deadly illness or accident. This fact resonates with husbands and wives who are in their advanced years and want to make the most of the time they have left. If someone has a dream that they want to fulfill, they might realize that now is the time to act, even if they must obtain a divorce to do so.

Ending a marriage is not easy at any age, but if you’re middle-aged or older, unwinding financial ties and distributing retirement benefits could be particularly complex. You might also be dealing with conflicts over the funding of higher education for your children. Finding a divorce lawyer who is aware of these concerns and has a record of obtaining strong results in gray divorce cases is critical.

Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP provides exceptional advice and advocacy to Nassau and Suffolk County residents in divorce cases and other family law matters. Whether your marriage has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or you just believe it is time to make a new start, our experienced New York attorneys can offer sound guidance.