In a marriage the D word is not an easy pill to swallow. Divorce is normal at any age, but recently the divorce rate among couples in long-term marriages is increasing. While the average American divorce rate has declined over the past 20 years, it seems that it is quite the opposite for people over 50. In less than 30 years, divorce rates of couples over this age have doubled. This is known as gray divorce. It is also referred to as “silver” or “diamond splitters”, referring to the hair of older adults. Divorce is difficult, but sometimes inevitable. There are different factors that contribute to gray divorce, and some legal issues to be aware of in the process.
Reasons For Divorce
- Growing Apart– A lot of times, adults will stay together for the sake of their children. After the youngest goesto college, the focus on children is gone. Suddenly, you are alone with your spouse and begin to realize you no longer know them. The same goes for when both individuals retire. Once you are no longer focused on work or your career, some people realize they don’t know their spouse anymore when alone with them.
- Money Issues– Once income stops coming, and couples are forced to live on a fixed income, issues arise. Differences in spending habits cause issues, and can lead to a spouse wanting a divorce.
- Sex– Sex changes as you get older. Some people want it less, while some may want it more. Frustration in this department can lead to a divorce.
- Infidelity– Cheating is a sure way to lead to a divorce. Older men may find themselves attracted to younger women, and older women the same with younger men. Or your partner may find similarities with another person and feel more connected to them. There may be many reasons for infidelity, but following through with it is what leads to divorce.
- Different Hobbies– One person in the marriage may want to travel more, while the other is perfectly happy with being a home-body. Differences in hobbies can lead to losing interest in your partner, making the desire to leave the marriage stronger.
- Life Expectancy Rates– Life expectancy rates are much higher these days. Older married people will most likely live to be another 20-40 years. Instead of being in an unhappy marriage, some call it quits so they can find their happiness.
- Marital Past– A recent study found that those who have been divorced before, are more likely to divorce again. The rate of divorce for those who are in remarriages is 2.5 times higher than for those in first marriages
- Want Better/More For Themselves– Some people just want something different. They want to make changes in their appearance, and how they live their life. When this happens, usually someone else comes into the picture with similar interests. The spouse also might not be willing to change, causing a drift.
Legalities You Should Prepare For
When getting a divorce, it not only costs money for lawyers, to get it all finalized, but there are also other things to consider.
- Retirement– When you retire, you may need to divide your retirement funds with your spouse.
- Asset Divisions– Divorcing later in life means that you have more assets that accumulated over time. The division of your house, and other assets will be determined by: how close each person is to retirement, how long you’ve been married, and more.
- Insurance– If your spouse cannot afford their own health insurance plan, they may be able to remain on your insurance.
- Spousal Support– Spousal support is common in all marriages, and there is no exception for gray divorces. Alimony may have to be paid if a spouse does not have or make enough to live.
- Social Security– A spouse may be entitled to your social security, depending on how long you have been married, and each spouse’s income.
- Long-Term Care– Long-term care facility and funeral expenses should be talked about during a divorce. Update your will to make sure costs are covered, whether by your former spouse or not.
It is common these days to hear couples who have been married for 50 plus years to get a divorce. While it is shocking, this is our reality. Gray divorces take place for a number of reasons, and it may be difficult. Confide in a friend if you are experiencing one, and find a lawyer that will help you throughout the process. It may be the end of a long chapter of your life, but the beginning of a new one for the rest of it.