A divorce is never easy, but when it comes after being with the other person for decades, it can be particularly difficult. Older couples who divorce after they are 50 years old (aka gray divorce) often do so after their children have grown up and have left the nest. Their intention is an understandable one: to prevent as much harm to their children as possible. But when these couples wait until later to divorce, they have often accumulated a lot of property and assets by the time they actually get to the divorce process.
You have heard it before, nobody who gets married -- in that moment of joy -- ever anticipates a divorce on the horizon. Today, however, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, and that's a big jump from several decades ago. Reasons for this increase are many, from greater societal acceptance of it to more accommodating laws.
According to information compiled by Bowling Green State University, chances of getting a divorce after the age of 50 are also increasing. Between 1990 and 2010, divorces in that age group doubled. Today, one in four married couples over the age of 50 end their marriage in divorce.
In Cass County, 12 percent of the population is divorced (while 60 percent is married), and many of those were married couples over the age of 50. Cass County is home to family values and conservative morals, so it makes sense that parents do not want to disrupt the lives of their children, but rather “tough it out” until their children are older. This also means parents are less likely to get into disputes over child custody and child support.
Regardless the statistics or reasons for divorce, it goes without saying, divorce is hard on everyone involved -- that part of divorce doesn't escape with waiting. And if you are over 50, there are unique circumstances that make divorce all the more complex.
Dividing Financial Assets
Waiting until you are at least 50 to divorce has its financial complications that you do not have in a relatively short marriage of ten years when you were younger. In cases of divorce after 50, you may have acquired property, retirement, and other financial assets that can be a great source of vitriol when dividing it up.
In Missouri, the principle of equitable distribution is applied. So, property is not easily divided up 50/50. Fairness is the rule, and defining what fairness means can be tricky. It can take time to outline all assets and determine who gets what. If you have assets worth a lot, the matter is even more complex.
Additional Considerations with Divorces after 50
Financial matters are not the only difficult consideration for divorces occurring after spouses are 50 years of age or older. Other things to think about include:
- If you are an at-home mom or dad (an independent spouse), your options for employment may be limited, especially at your age. Alimony may be requested, and this can become a source of disagreement with regard to amount and duration.
- Given your age, you may want to consider your health and the emotional impact a divorce can have on it. A divorce is stressful regardless of age, but age can definitely exacerbate that stress and stress can exacerbate any health issues.
- Younger children are more resilient than older ones -- you may have thought you were doing good by waiting, but it may invoke a sense of bitterness in older children who are not as likely to move on and adapt as quickly as opposed to when they were younger.
If you are age 50 or older and considering a divorce, you are likely full of questions just as much as you are full of worries and fears. Seek out someone close or even a therapist who can listen to your concerns and relieve some of those fears. If your questions involve legal matters, consult an experienced family law attorney. Talking to someone doesn't mean a divorce will happen, but it may help give you some clarity and an idea of what to expect.
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