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Grey Divorces: The Financial Impact Of Divorcing Later In Life

a couple sit facing opposite directions after divorce

Now that your children are grown and have moved out, you’re probably thinking about how you’re going to enjoy the next stage of your life. For some married couples, they may decide they want to enter their golden years without their current partners.

Also known as a “grey divorce”, ending a marriage after the age of 60 has become a noticeable trend amongst the boomer generation. As reported by, the number of seniors filing for divorce has increased significantly over the last few years, although statistics for divorces overall appeared to be down.

How Do Retirement Funds Affect Spousal Support?

The challenge with divorcing later in life is that it poses significant risks to a person’s financial stability during retirement. In many cases, couples are no longer earning an income past age 65. This means that both parties in the relationship are on equal grounds when it comes to earning ability as they are relying on their retirement funds.

With no one being the “higher earner” in this situation, the shared wealth would essentially be divided equally between them, barring any excluded items, such as inheritances. Federal spousal support guidelines would only apply if one of the parties was still earning an income.

What If One Of Us Is Still Working?

Some people stop working at different ages in life, which means that one partner may still be earning an income while the other is not when they decide to divorce. In these scenarios, it is more complex to determine a fair and reasonable equalization payment.

  • Would a pension still be considered family property, or a source of income for the non-working spouse?
  • How would pensions and other retirement savings be valued and then equalized between spouses when one person is still employed?
  • Would the federal spousal support guidelines still apply?

For these situations, consultations with legal and financial professionals can shed more light on the value of your assets, how they should be divided, and determining your legal rights and obligations.

Duration Of Spousal Support Payments For Older Individuals

According to the federal spousal support advisory guidelines, there is no end date for spousal support for couples who have been married for longer than 20 years. If a payor wants to cease paying spousal support into retirement, then he or she would have to prove a significant change in circumstances to change the original spousal support order.

If you remarry, and then divorce again at an older age, the rules for the duration of spousal support payments are different than for couples who divorce earlier in life. The government realizes that, as couples get older, there’s not just the length of the marriage to consider when determining eligibility for spousal support. The age of the individuals, proximity to the age of retirement, and their financial stability post age 65 should also be considered.

Grey Divorces: The Bottom Line

Whether you are paying spousal support into retirement, or must divide your retirement funds in a divorce settlement, you may need to revaluate your retirement plans. Where you were going to live, places you were going to travel, or things you intended to purchase may change if your financial situation is impacted post-divorce.

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About the Author

Brahm is a Senior Partner at Nathens Siegel and was called to the bar in 1995. Certified as a Specialist in Family Law by the Law Society since 2008, Brahm co-authored McLeod’s Ontario Family Law Rules and is the consulting editor of the Consolidated Ontario Family Law Statutes and Regulations. Brahm is a certified Family Mediator with the Ontario Association of Family Mediators (OAFM) and a certified arbitrator with Family Dispute Resolution Institute (FDRIO).Ken Nathens is the founding partner of Nathens Siegel and he was called to the Ontario Bar in 1994. Ken’s background is in all areas of Ontario family law and has written extensively on family law issues, including articles published in Divorce Magazine and interviewed by AdvocateDaily. He regularly contributes to the Lawyer’s Daily and has lectured on family law through Riverdale Mediation, and guest lectured to law students at the University of Windsor, Ottawa University and Osgoode Hall Law School.