Twenty years ago, it was common for couples to stay together for more than
three decades. Despite difficulties and hardships, many married couples
remained together. Whether it was because of religious upbringing, social
stigmas, or practicality, the divorce rate in older couples was relatively
low. That is changing in current times. Divorces that occur with individuals
who are 50 years of age or older are considered “gray” divorces.
According to research conducted by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin from Bowling
Green State University, couples over the age of 50 are twice as likely
to get divorced now as they were in 1990. That roughly translates to one
in four couples of all American divorces consist of individuals who are
over 50, while one in 10 are over 65. Furthermore, 55% of the divorces
include couples who have been together for 20 or more years.
This can mean your parents and grandparents are more likely to dissolve
their marriage now than they would have in the past. Based on Brown and
Lin’s research, there are multiple variables as to why this is.
The leading factor is that women are more economically capable than they
were before. More women are working and thriving, which allows them the
choice of divorce, rather than staying in a marriage for financial reasons.
Another reason includes the cultural shift in the way society views divorce.
In the past, divorce was considered a taboo topic. It was looked down
upon to dissolve a marriage, particularly in religious circles. However,
now with an average of 40 to 50% of American marriages ending in divorce,
it is not so uncommon. Fewer people believe divorce is wrong.
Finally, with the expanding life expectancy, couples realize they may not
want to spend another 20 years with their spouse. Couples sometimes realize
that after they have raised their kids and are on their own again, they
do not have much in common. Growing apart is not unusual and people find
that it would be better for both parties if they simply end the marriage,
rather than have to continue it for an indeterminate time.
No matter what age a couple decides to obtain a divorce, it is sad. However,
for couples who have been together for 20 years or more, it can be a little
more complicated. There is a shared history and accumulated assets that
must be considered.
If you or your spouse are considering a gray divorce, there are some things
you should take note of.
Finances – California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that property and assets
accrued during the marriage must be split evenly, including retirement
funds. Also, if one spouse made significantly more than the other, alimony
may need to be paid to maintain a quality of life.
Caregiving – As we age, it can be difficult to take care of ourselves. It is important
to decide who will take care of us when we’re older. You and your
ex may have had a plan earlier during your marriage, but you may need
to reconsider circumstances if you divorce. The dissolution of marriage
may also affect your relationship with your children.
Living Arrangements – You and your spouse will need to figure out your living arrangements after
the divorce. Will one of you keep the house while the other moves out?
Will you sell the house and split the money? These are important things
to take into account.
Shift in Family Dynamics – Divorce changes a lot of things, including how your family functions.
Even if a couple has adult children who have their own families, it can
be difficult to adjust to post-marriage life. You will need to figure
out holidays, emotions, and your role in the family.
At James D. Madden & Aruna P. Rodrigo, Family Law Attorneys, we understand how difficult it is
when a marriage ends, regardless of age. If you and your ex plan to dissolve
your marriage, our San Bernardino divorce attorneys can help. Call today
for a free consultation.