Experts have found that divorces among couples over 50 have doubled over the past two decades, while those over 65 have nearly tripled in California. While the facts contradict the standing beliefs about marriage, factors like more extended life expectancy, an empty nest, financial issues and changing social norms have made gray divorces more common.
Higher life expectancy
With modern medicine and advances in health care, people are beginning to live longer. A longer life expectancy allows individuals to re-evaluate their lives and make choices they may not have. In addition, many baby boomers saw their parents’ marriages end in divorce, which could be contributing to the trend.
Empty nest syndrome
Children are often the glue that holds marriages together. Once they leave the nest, couples remain to face each other without the distraction (and common ground) of children. The new focus can be a difficult transition for spouses with little in common.
Money is one of the most common reasons couples give for getting divorced, and it’s mainly an issue for older retired couples or those nearing retirement. But, whether it’s disagreements over spending, debt from earlier in life or different ideas about financial security in retirement, money can strain any marriage.
Changing social norms
The social norm of “til death do us part” isn’t as vital as it used to be. With more people waiting longer to get married, there is a growing acceptance of divorce. Additionally, more women are becoming independent and less dependent on their husbands. If they are unhappy, they find it easier to leave their marriages and pursue their dreams or focus on their careers.
If divorce seems inevitable in your case, there are some things you can do to make the process easier, both emotionally and financially. For instance, gather all your financial documents and determine which are up for division and which may not. Dividing a marriage may be challenging since all those years together with your spouse, the chances of commingling your assets are high. You should also be aware of the tax implications of divorce, especially if you’re over 50. Finally, it’s essential not to forget to take care of yourself during this difficult time by maintaining your social life and hobbies and seeking counseling or therapy if needed.