Move over blockbuster breakups — there’s a new (or not-so-new) couple calling it quits. Iconic actor Hugh Jackman, known for his portrayal of Wolverine, is now navigating the world of gray divorce with his wife of 27 years, Deborra-Lee Furness. As the headlines buzz with their separation, Carolyn Grimes, partner at Friedman, Grimes, Meinken & Leischner PLLC, offers insight on divorce after the age of 50.

What is a gray divorce?

A “gray divorce” refers to the split or dissolution of marriage among couples aged 50+, often after a long-term marriage. Gray-divorce couples tend to have more complex familial matters and asset distributions to consider because of their many years spent together.

  • Planning for the Spotlight: While you may not have the star power of Hugh Jackman, Grimes says it’s wise to consider the many coworkers, friends or acquaintances who are likely to have questions following your announcement. Talk with an attorney about the best ways to prioritize your privacy and strategize on the best way to break the news.
  • Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number — Or Is It?: Partners over 50 may have some additional considerations when it comes to asset distribution. Pensions and retirement funds often form financial security for retirement, and division of these assets during a gray divorce might become a big concern. Inventory all your funds and assets prior to coming to the negotiating table.
  • Assess Healthcare Coverage: Determine how you’ll handle health insurance once the divorce is finalized. While many may have shared plans, disentangling your policies may leave you exploring various individual options that fit all of your healthcare needs.
  • The Ripple Effect: A gray divorce affects the whole family. Inheritance plans, which often encompass decades of accumulated wealth and assets, must be revisited. Don’t forget to check on the emotional well-being of family members as well. Try to support each other through this time of transition rather than break into separate camps.

Carolyn Grimes is a partner in the firm, practicing in all areas of family law including divorce, spousal support, child custody, child support, equitable distribution, retirement issues, and prenuptial agreements, among other areas. She has lectured on family law topics ranging from custody to retirement issues, including military, federal, civilian and Foreign Service retirement issues, for various organizations in the Commonwealth.