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Gray Divorce: 5 Things to Know About Divorce Over 50

The recent announcement that Bill and Melinda Gates were splitting up after 27 years of marriage sent shockwaves through the news and social media. If they are divorcing at over 60, what does that mean for other marriages? “Gray Divorce,” or divorces over 50, are not uncommon and are happening more often, even to non-celebrities. Are there things you should know about divorce after 50? Here are some things to keep in mind to protect yourself and your finances.  

Health Insurance

If you have health coverage through your spouse, a divorce may create a sticky situation. Knowing what to do will help you as you navigate life post-divorce. Medicare doesn’t kick in until 65, so check out your options if you need health insurance. They can include:  

  • Your employer’s health coverage
  • Your state’s exchange through the Affordable Care Act
  • Your former spouse’s insurance through COBRA for up to 36 months

Keep in mind that COBRA can be prohibitively expensive, so it’s worth checking out all of your options before making a decision. 


Retirement accounts can be much messier when separating after 50. This is why we always recommend having a good lawyer on your side. For example, if you fund an IRA with your share of a spouse’s retirement and try to tap into it before the magic age of 59.5, you will still pay the standard 10% early withdrawal penalty. But you can protect your assets with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. This can allow you to make a one-time withdrawal without penalty. 

Divorce Expenses

Keep in mind that your finances aren’t just about your retirement or health insurance. The divorce itself can cost a pretty penny when you’re not prepared to pay for it. According to some studies, an amicable divorce can cost anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000, and we know that not all divorces are quick and easy. That’s especially true if you’ve been together for a long time and everything is so interwoven it takes a surgical hand to untangle it. 

Social Security 

Things with social security can get a little tricky. In many cases, a gray divorce is between one working spouse and the other who may have stayed home to raise a family. Now, the spouse without a significant work history can still draw social security retirement benefits after the divorce based on their ex’s contribution. The truth is, the payment to the non-working spouse has little effect on the benefits for the contributor. It’s always worth consulting with a lawyer before making any major decisions. 


According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 22% of women and 37% of men re-partner within ten years after a gray divorce. However, the studies also indicate that cohabitation is more common than remarriage, especially for men. Some of the reasons for this trend may be about finances and the desire to avoid another intermingling of assets. 

Do you have questions about divorce over 50?   

We are Georgia divorce and child custody attorneys. This is all we have done since 1995. We can help. If you need help or have any questions, we would be happy to speak with you via email, text, or phone. Check us out at

Scott Shaw
Shaw Law Firm, PC
(770) 594-8309 (phone or text)
[email protected]