Canadian Baby Boomers divorcing in greater numbers

People approaching retirement are more likely to divorce than others

Grey divorce - divorce involving at least one spouse who is over 50 - has hit Canada, with the Globe and Mail recently reporting that census data shows Canadians in their late 50s are likelier to be divorced than any other age group. Analysts say that the grey divorce boom is being led by Baby Boomers, many of whom are deciding to leave unhappy marriages after their children have moved out. While in many cases a late-in-life divorce can give older individuals an important sense of freedom and opportunity, it is important to be aware of the potential challenges ahead.

Rising divorce rate

Based on 2011 federal census data, the Globe and Mail found that among Canadian women in their late 50s the divorce rate was 21.6 percent, while it was 18.9 percent for men in the same age group. Those rates are higher than for any other age group and are in line with data from the U.S. where about a quarter of all divorces now involve a spouse who is over 50.

According to the Financial Post, while many grey divorces involve second or third marriages, a surprisingly large number of them actually involve long-term first marriages. Furthermore, in many cases it is the wife who is choosing to leave the marriage, especially after the children have moved out of the family home. Finally, because of increasing lifespans, people in their late 50s are having understandable anxieties about spending potentially 20 to 30 years in retirement stuck in an unhappy marriage.

Challenges faced

People who divorce later in life, however, must contend with a unique set of challenges. While issues like child custody and support are unusual in grey divorce cases, other issues, like retirement plans, are much more important.

Division of matrimonial property is usually the most important aspect to consider in a grey divorce, especially when it comes to dividing assets that can eventually be used to fund a retirement. Pension plans and RRSPs are the most obvious assets in this regard, but how other items, like the family home and investment accounts, are divided can have a big impact on the quality of one's retirement.

Legal advice

Divorce is never an easy process, regardless of when it happens. However, people who choose to take this important step can make the process easier by preparing beforehand. One of the best ways to prepare for the divorce process is by consulting with an experienced matrimonial lawyer. Such a lawyer can provide the security and comfort people need when moving forward with this difficult but important step in their lives.