As common as divorce is among younger people, divorces among older couples have also become more prevalent in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, divorce rates among couples over age 50 have doubled since the 1990s. For those aged 65 and up, the rates have tripled. Some refer to this phenomenon as “late-life divorce” or “grey divorce.”
Divorce can be difficult at any age, but when it happens in later life, it comes with some unique challenges that are different from those experienced by younger couples. Let’s discuss some of these challenges and how you might address them.
One of the biggest challenges in late-life divorce is how to divide assets. A couple may have been married for decades, and both may be approaching retirement age. When there are multiple homes or significant savings amounts, it can be difficult to reach an amicable financial settlement. Matters may be further complicated when considering pensions, retirement accounts, Social Security, etc. –not to mention having to deal with sentimental attachments to your belongings over the years. With a late-life divorce, both spouses need to have patience and compassion with one another as they unravel a lifetime’s worth of assets. If both partners are amicable and can negotiate, this process can be much less stressful with a mediated divorce than litigating through the courts.
A late-life divorce can present a much greater financial strain on one or both spouses, especially if one was more financially dependent on the other. Once a couple divorces, they must each take charge of their own finances for the first time since their marriage began–and the greater their age, the less earning power they may have. Additionally, divorcees in their 60s and 70s may have significant health issues that increase healthcare costs. Alimony payments may be essential for one spouse, while the other may have trouble making those payments. You may need the help of a financial advisor to figure out a plan for surviving on your own financially.
Relationships with Children
In a late-life divorce, you likely won’t be dealing with custody issues because any children you had together will be grown. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be fallout. Adult children tend to be more involved in their parents’ personal lives–and sometimes less tolerant of their decisions. The children may also feel divided loyalty between the parents even if both spouses discourage this. It may require the assistance of a family counselor to sort through some of the negative feelings and restore balance to these relationships.
Emotional Trauma and Loneliness
The longer a couple stays together, the more traumatic it can be when they part ways. Adjusting to single life for the first time in decades can be very challenging. While the decision to divorce may ultimately lead to a happier existence, you may find yourself grappling with depression and severe loneliness at first. If these feelings become overwhelming and you’re having difficulty processing them, there’s no shame in talking to a licensed therapist. Support groups can also provide much-needed support and encouragement during this time.
Regardless of your age when you go through a divorce, having an experienced family law attorney can reduce the stress and ensure you come out of the divorce process on as firm a footing as possible. Contact Tenn And Tenn, P.A., to schedule your free initial consultation today.