Maybe you’ve heard the news that divorce rates in the United States are on the decline, and that’s true — except among seniors.
Typically the bastion of stable marriages, folks over 50 years of age are experiencing divorce at roughly double the rates seen back in the 1990s. For the trend, experts overall credit longer life expectancies, more financial independence among women and the fading social stigmas associated with divorce.
But divorce in your senior years isn’t quite like divorce when you’re younger. Below are some reasons why that’s the case.
Your lives are deeply entangled with other lives — including your adult children
Older divorced couples don’t have to worry about things like child custody — but they still have to deal with the emotional and social ramifications that their actions will have on their children (and, maybe, grandchildren). It’s not going to be easy to avoid your ex-spouse when you have birthday parties, weddings, baby showers and more to attend together.
Plus, you may have some fallout in your social groups. A lot of couples find that their friends “take sides,” and that can make it harder to maintain your current relationships. Also, building strong friendships isn’t always easy when you’re older.
You probably have more financial complications in your divorce — including retirement goals
When you’re young and scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, there’s not a lot to split in a divorce once you decide who keeps the car and who gets the furniture.
When you’re older, it’s common to have investments, real estate and retirement plans that have to be divided when you divorce. That can quickly get contentious, especially if each party is concerned about maintaining their pre-divorce lifestyle or worried about funding their twilight years.
Just the same, there’s no reason to stay in an unhappy marriage any longer than necessary. While there may be some bumpy roads ahead, you’ve already gained the perspective of age that tells you, “This, too, shall pass.” Talk to a family law attorney to learn more about how you can proceed through your divorce journey with grace and dignity.