Family Law for Real Housewives: Ramona, Mario & The Gray Divorce

From a spectator’s point of view, Ramona and Mario seemed to have the picture perfect marriage. They were married for over 20 years and the romance seemed alive. They have a daughter, ever the voice of reason on the show since she was a tween. They had an apartment in NYC and a summer home in the Hamptons. Both were career oriented.

Yet, their marriage came to a crashing halt. Rumors filled the tabloids with allegations that Mario cheated on Ramona. And Ramona and Mario became among the growing statistics of “Gray Divorces.”

What’s a “Gray Divorce,” you may be asking? A Gray Divorce involves individuals age 50 and older. Yes, it has become such a phenomenon that it’s garnered its own catch phrase.

In fact, studies show that the divorce rate for individuals 50 and older doubled in the last 20 years. Two decades ago, individuals 50 and older accounted for about 10% of divorces. Recently, the divorce rate for this age group skyrocketed to about 25%. Interestingly, about half of those divorces occurred in first marriages.

Common reasons for Gray Divorces include: growing apart; children moving out of the house; change in circumstances, such as health or employment status; and increased life expectancy.

Divorce also has become much more widespread in recent years. With the divorce taboo largely shed, more individuals later in life are opting to separate. Meanwhile, online websites and apps have transformed the dating world and often make it easier to meet another partner.

Special considerations exist in dissolving marriages of long duration. Plans for retirement may be thrown out the window, as savings put aside for one household now may be cut in half. One of the spouses will have to move out of the marital home or it may have to be sold. Spousal support may be essential to subsist due to long absence from the workforce. Payment of spousal support may extend the payor’s anticipated retirement date. Plans for the payment and procurement of health insurance need to be spelled out.

Gray Divorces can be highly emotionally charged. Many of these individuals wed when marriage was thought to really mean ’til death do you part.’ To find oneself in this predicament can be earth shattering.

Now let’s learn a lesson from the show. Divorce after 50 is one of the Real issues that many men and woman across the country are facing. Whether or not a spouse may have desired the Gray Divorce, the show demonstrates that there is life after divorce. You can pick up the pieces and live your new chapter to the fullest.

Stay tuned for the next edition, the “Ins and Outs of Moving Out.”

Rebecca A. Provder is a partner in the Matrimonial and Family Law Practice Group at Moses & Singer LLP, 405 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10174, 212-554-7628, rprovder@mosessinger.com.

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