Gray Divorce

What is a gray divorce?

Married adults 50 years and older that are divorcing

Gray divorce is when adults in a marriage that are 50 years or older are getting divorced. The name comes from the gray color of hair common among older adults in the demographic.

Where did gray divorce come from?

AARP, a U.S. group that focuses on issues affecting adults over the age of 50, coined gray divorce (also spelled as grey divorce) in the mid-2000s. It originally referred to couples who had been married for 40+ years that were getting divorced but morphed to refer to people 50 years and older getting divorced, regardless of the length of the marriage.

It became a helpful term when describing the rising rate of older couples getting divorced in the 1990s and 2000s, which persisted in the 2010s and beyond. The term may also go by other names, such as "Silver Splitter or "Diamond Divorcees."

What leads to gray divorce?

Various forces lead to gray divorces, such as infidelity or the couple's kids are now mature enough to handle it. However, the most prominent forces are the following:

  • Increased financial stability that allows for less dependence on the spouse's income.
  • Increased time spent together due to retirement and the realization they don't like each other.
  • Mid-life crises where one or both spouses want to spend the time they have left doing other things.
  • Physical limitations due to age and no desire to be a caretaker.
  • Lack of sexual intimacy.

Prominent examples of gray divorce

Some famous examples of older couples that have divorced include Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison, Al and Tipper Gore, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, and Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower.

Example

"I can't believe they are getting divorced after 40 years of marriage!"
"Yeah, what are they going to do now? I don't think a gray divorce will help them."
Melinda and Bill Gates got a gray divorce in 2021

Melinda and Bill Gates got a gray divorce in 2021

Related Slang

Usage

Last Updated: May 5, 2021

Gray divorce definition

This page explains what the slang term "Gray divorce" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slangit team.

We are constantly updating our database with new slang terms, acronyms, and abbreviations. If you would like to suggest a term or an update to an existing one, please let us know!