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Author: Women, men experience "gray divorce" in different ways

Married in their twenties, they have spent the years since raising a family, working hard to get ahead and making their house into a home. Now that the kids are gone and their careers are nearer the end than the beginning, they face a new challenge: divorce.

It was at one time rare for people in their 50s to get divorced, but those days are gone says the author of “Gray Divorce: What We Lose and Gain from Mid-Life Split." Researcher and professor Jocelyn Elise Crowley, Ph.D., says that men over 50 and women over 50 experience divorce in very different ways.

Crowley said she interviewed dozens of men and women who had gone through a so-called gray divorce. The men tended to complain about financial problems in their marriages and about "financial infidelity" (their spouses spending money behind their backs). They were also unhappy with the leniency their wives exhibited in the discipline of their children.

On the other side of those divorces, women complained more about "bad behaviors" by their husbands that included alcohol abuse, drug use and sometimes "repetitive, severe emotional and verbal abuse."

The Rutgers professor noted that in recent years, the overall divorce rate has "stabilized and even declined a bit." Not so with older couples, she said. "In between 1990-2010, the divorce rate for this age group actually doubled. Now, about one out of every four divorces is ‘gray,’” Crowley said.

She said her research indicates that for a variety of socioeconomic reasons, women tend to face an "economic gray divorce penalty" (often due to career sacrifices made to raise families) and that men must cope with a "social gray divorce penalty" that often includes "potential alienation from their own adult children.”

Divorce is difficult no matter a person's age, but with the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can protect your children, finances and future.

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