Gray Divorce Rates are Increasing
From 1990 onwards, the cases of “Gray Divorce,” or divorce after age 50, have increased substantially, to the point where a larger share of individuals are experiencing divorce in the second half of life (Lin et al, 2018). The nature of working and an older population can lead to unique vocational concerns, particularly in the areas of spousal support and earning capacity. Additionally, spouses who are returning to work after an extended absence from the labor market can face various challenges.
Returning to Work as an Older Adult
When it comes to returning to work as an older adult, there can be circumstances which can impact an individual’s potential earning capacity. For example, an increase of chronic health conditions may impact absenteeism and reliability which can make returning to work more difficult. Due to physical limitations, older individuals may only be able to work part-time or have a limited range of work that they are able to do on a sustained basis. This can decrease the amount of income that may be obtained from a job (White et al., 2018).
Women Can Face Additional Obstacles
Women who are returning to work after a divorce can experience additional obstacles as they re-enter the workforce, including “rusty skills, a lack of confidence, employer discrimination and new technologies and social media (Davidson, P., 2019).” Additionally, an extended job absence can affect any transferable skills that had been obtained from prior work. When performing a transferable skills analysis, no more than the past 15 years of work is analyzed as it is no longer realistic to expect skills to continue after 15 years (Havraneck, J., 2007; Weed, R. O., & Field, T.F., 2001).
Other Vocational Issues to Consider
There are many vocational issues that can arise within the realm of a “Gray Divorce.” A significant employment gap could be long enough to negate any transferrable skills, issues with new technology in the workforce, and health conditions may all play a role in making it harder for an older adult to return to work after a divorce. This may affect the amount of income an individual can earn, which in turn can affect areas like spousal support. The use of a vocational expert in this area would be beneficial in order to navigate this complicated situation.
Davidson, P (2019, March 25). Older women returning to work, rebuilding savings. USA Today. https://wealthprotectionmanagement.com/older-women-returning-work-rebuilding-savings-professional-identity/
Havraneck, J. (2007). Advanced issues in forensic rehabilitation (199). Athens, GA: Elliott & Fitzpatrick.
Lin, I. F., Brown, S. L., Wright, M. R., & Hammersmith, A. M. (2018). Antecedents of Gray Divorce: A Life Course Perspective. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 73(6), 1022–1031. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbw164
Weed, R. O., & Field, T. F. (2001). Transferable skills analysis. In Rehabilitation Consultants Hand- book (pp. 101-103). Athens, GA: Elliott and Fitzpatrick, Inc.
White, M. S., Burns, C., & Conlon, H. A. (2018). The Impact of an Aging Population in the Workplace. Workplace Health & Safety, 66(10), 493–498. https://doi.org/10.1177/2165079917752191