Couples over the age of 50 represent an increasing share of the number of divorces in the United States. This phenomenon is known as gray divorce and it presents some interesting challenges for those in their later years. Understanding the reasons behind and the complications of divorce after the age of 50 will help couples navigate this process more effectively for themselves and their families.
Reasons for Gray Divorce
Some of the most important reasons that couples decide to divorce after the age of 50 include financial issues, addictions of various kinds, infidelity and simply growing apart.
- Financial disagreements and difficulties often play a role in any divorce and particularly in gray divorce cases. Poor financial management and large amounts of debt can put stress on the marriage and can lead one or both parties to look for a way out of the situation.
- Addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling are also major issues that can result in the breakup of a marriage. This is especially true for couples who are also under financial pressure or who have limited resources to devote to these addictive behaviors.
- Infidelity is a factor in gray divorce just as it is for younger couples. In some cases, older people may feel that they have limited time left to find a person with whom they can be happy. This can lead both to infidelities and to a greater willingness to divorce when they are unhappy in their marriages.
- As couples grow older, they may find they do not have similar interests. Growing apart is one of the most common reasons for couples to divorce after the age of 50.
Issues to Consider When Planning Divorce After 50
Couples will face a number of challenges when planning a gray divorce:
- Adult children may feel unhappy or may feel compelled to take sides with one parent or the other. This can cause family dissension and may create hard feelings among children and parents. Taking care to avoid causing division among family members will often allow couples to navigate the divorce process more successfully.
- Children may also be uncomfortable or unhappy with the idea of their parents entering the dating scene again. Being open and honest is usually the best policy when planning a resumption of dating or establishing a new relationship after a divorce.
- Division of assets and debts will typically be challenging for couples at any age. For divorce proceedings for people over the age of 50, however, the process may be complicated by retirement income, Social Security payments, life insurance policies and other financial arrangements that may be difficult to untangle. If one spouse worked while the other did not, this can also create issues if the non-working spouse cannot find a way to support himself or herself.
Working with an attorney who specializes in gray divorce is generally the best way to handle these legal arrangements and to achieve the best outcomes for you and your spouse alike. By working with an attorney with experience in this field, you can ensure that your divorce goes smoothly and that you can enjoy the most comfortable life in your golden years.