It’s difficult enough to get divorced after five or ten years of marriage, when you still have your career to focus on and plenty of time to restart your life. But more and more often, couples are splitting up after thirty, forty, or even fifty years together. “Grey divorce” is a trend that is on the rise as the stigma about divorces is rapidly shifting toward acceptance. Just like unhappy couples in other demographics, there are numerous reasons that people over 50 are choosing to separate. Some feel that they no longer have to stick out an unhappy relationship “for the kids,” who are now grown and have left the nest. It appears to be true.
As life spans increase, recently retired folks might not be interested in spending another 25 years with their spouse. Another theory is that women are more financially independent than they were twenty years ago, and they no longer feel the need to have a husband in order to survive. If you’re considering a grey divorce, here are a few things you should know:
It isn’t going to be easy.
It may seem like getting divorced when you’re more mature would be simpler. You know who you are at this point in life, and can easily move on and make your way in the world, right? But even though you might not be willing to nitpick over the little things in a divorce settlement, you’ll still have to take care of splitting assets and deciding where you will live. Don’t forget that it won’t be effortless to adjust to a new life after spending decades with the same person.
Your retirement is at stake.
If you’re close to retirement or have already gotten there, you need to consider your financial situation during your post-work years. It’s a big deal anyway without being compounded by divorce. Will you have sufficient income to survive? Will you be relying on support payments from your spouse? What funds should be divided and which ones should be kept separate? If you have yet to retire, a divorce could potentially put off your current retirement plans. Go over your financial statements carefully with your lawyer.
Your children will still be affected.
It isn’t easy for a child to hear that their parents are divorcing, even if that child is grown. While you may not need to go to court over custody battles, you and your soon-to-be-former spouse will still need to decide how family time will be spent. How will each of you spend the holidays with your family? Do you need to have two separate gatherings, or can you continue to celebrate together? Also, be prepared for events that simply can’t be split. For instance, both of you will likely want to be present for the birth of a grandchild.
You are not alone.
Just as the number of grey divorces has risen, so has the amount of therapy available for those affected. Both one-on-one sessions and group meetings are becoming more widely available. And there are more ways than ever to join in on activities with groups of other new singles to go to a movie or have dinner. It’s a good transition from the married life to the single life, and it’s likely that you’ll find a great support team.
While grey divorce may not be a situation you ever thought you would find yourself in, it is a process you will get through with time. Be sure to consider all of your options when it comes to finances, assets, and family issues. Discuss your concerns with your lawyer. There may be good times and bad, but know that there is plenty of help available.