While the divorce rate for spouses under 50 has decreased since the 1980s, the divorce rate among older Americans has doubled. In fact, “gray divorces” seem to be a form of relief for many people over 50.
According to a study by researchers at Bowling Green State University, more than one in four married couples over 50 were divorce in 2009, compared with one in 10 in 1990. Those who had remarried were 150 percent more likely to divorce.
The reasons that older Americans have for divorcing are usually different from the younger generations. Usually, the couple has grown apart over the years and at least one of the spouses is not fulfilled in the marriage. Cheating is only a factor in fewer than 30 percent of gray divorces. Perhaps a spouse realizes that the children are the only family members who are content or finds financial independence through employment that would have prevented her from leaving in the past. Whatever the reason, people over 50 have likely given the divorce a lot of thought, and this thought carries through the divorce itself.
Divorcing after many years of marriage
When people who have been together for many years decide to divorce, they are deciding on a big life change for themselves and sometimes their children. They understand this and, depending on the circumstances, are generally more cordial than other divorcing spouses. While younger couples fight over child custody and smaller pieces of property, older couples tend to focus more on retirement benefits, health insurance and other financial issues.
Of course, couples who have been married longer have more property to divide, so it makes sense to focus energy on that part of a divorce. While more women over 50 work, there is still a large population of women who were stay-at-home moms and never obtained the education they would need to find a proper job, so alimony (also called spousal support and spousal maintenance) also comes into play in some gray divorces.
The divorce itself can be stressful, but a large majority of divorced women and men over 40 say that they are relatively happy. Fifty-six percent rank themselves as 8-10 out of 10 on a happiness scale. Change, it seems, does not need to be a bad thing.
If the legal issues involved in divorce seem challenging to you, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand your options and take the legal burden off your shoulders. This means helping you:
- Determine how your retirement benefits can be divided
- Weigh your options for health insurance
- Fight for or against alimony
- Change, if necessary, your estate planning documents
- Discuss how to fairly divide your real property and other assets, including intangible assets
- Determine whether it is economically beneficial to keep the house
To learn more about divorce, please visit our pages on divorce in Georgia.
Source: Huffington Post, “Gray Divorce: Will You Become Part of the Trend?” Shelly Emling, Nov. 1, 2012